The Dark Ages

The Rot in the Light
The Chronicle of Børæn

It is the early days of summer.

The Valley of the Wolf is is alive with activity. The fields are being worked, the hunters and fishers return with their bounty. Everything is at peace, and praise the goddess Me’sha for her gifts.

As Orpo, the Merkitä Muistiin, makes his way through the valley, he follows the road Børæn made his first priority when moving the tribe here. This road grew to many, and together now allow for the flow of people and goods throughout the valley, as well as the two neighboring valleys the Wolf Tribe hold. As always Orpo’s heart warms to how the boy he considers his son, has grown to be who he is.

Walking in silence, Orpo looks around and reflects on the peace he travels through. The tribe works with a purpose, and this purpose is one in synch with the land. Framing, brewing, and even the crafts of the tribes have brought much to the Wolf. Children learn and they are allowed to be children in the safety of the valley. Still, despite all appearances, the Wolf is ready. The sounds of the forge drift through the air, as does the steady thunk of arrow striking target. The Wolf may look tame, but that is only appearance. The Wolf is always ready to strike and the Wolf never tamed.

The road takes him to his destination: a meadow. This is no ordinary meadow, it is the one the Peikko (goblin) now live in commune with their goddess. This change astounds the Merkitä Muistiin. In days not so distant, this field would be littered with the bodies of Peikko and the Wolf. The beauty and tranquility of this place would be shattered as blood seeped into the earth, and the broken bodies left for the crow’s meal.

Now the Peikko are part of the Wolf, and are the worshiper’s of Me’sha. The “little ones” as Børæn calls them, has worked to bring more to the goddess, and though the Peikko do not number many, the group here carry on the work, worship the shared goddess, and are a strong part of the tribe.

Børæn stands with them, and whatever worship they were doing is over. Orpo watches as each goblin pays their respect to Børæn, and in return Børæn, pays them his respect. Some spend a few minuets talking to the man, that once, would have buried a axe in their head. Strongly, the man and Peikko share a laugh, share a few words, or offer respect. Even Talvi, when she is not busy stalking her cub, seems to show a strange sense of respect and kindness to the “little ones.” As the last of the Peikko depart, Orpo approaches his pupil.

“You should join us next time Merkitä Muistiin, this is lore that is as important as the battles we have fought. Maybe I should collect this lore for you!” Børæn voice rumbles.

“So you are now Merkitä Muistiin pup? That ego you have knows no bounds. We all know it is your wife who is the real mind driving that body! Besides your head is as empty as your drinking horn if you think you can serve as Merkitä Muistiin!”

He tries to show his anger, but Børæn laughs, a booming laugh, and with him Orpo joins him.

They embrace, not as fellow warriors, but as father and son. Standing next to each other, the two stand in silence as they Talvi and her cub run through the grasses, and stalking one another. Talvi is old and her fur is more white than grey. Her cub, who is as black as the night will carry on her legacy.

“Does he have a name?” Orpo quietly asks.

“Turgon,” Børæn replies simply.

“Why that one?”

Børæn pauses, and Orpo sees sadness cloud the face of the man. It is a sadness that he rarely shows, and it is a side of Børæn only a few know that exists.

“Turgon was the one, besides yourself, who showed me a different way. It was he who led me to Me’sha’s grace. It was he who taught me lessons I did not know I needed. Turgon was a great chieftain. Not a chieftain of warriors, but a chieftain who showed all who would listen, a different way. Even if he sometimes chaffed at that, he new the duty he held.”

“Where I am, and always will be, Me’sha’s rage, he was her voice. At no other time in my life did your words ring more true: Ber er hver að baki nema sér bróður eigi (One’s back is vulnerable, unless one has a brother.) He was my mentor, he was my teacher, and he was, and always will be my brother.”

“A few weeks ago you asked me about the battle of Irecia. I grew angry with you, and I am sorry. Let me tell you why I was angry, maybe then you will understand why that event still is a dagger in my heart. After the utter failure of making any positive effect on Irecia…”

“But you rescued the men my boy. Surely you can see that the deed was a good one?” Interrupted Orpo who braced himself for Børæn’s outburst. Instead he was surprised by the clam nature of the man he often still saw as a boy.

“I know… Let me tell you tell you more, and then you can see why my anger is still there…"

“After Irecia, my companions and I split apart to take care of our own matters. I traveled to Me’sha’s shrine and longed for the peace that place brought me, and still brings me. When Talvi and I arrived, the peace was shattered. Turgon and the worshipers were gone. Gone to were the little ones. My adopted tribe was missing, and the shrine looked as an attempt was made to destroy it."

“This is why the events of Irecia still are a dagger in my heart. I failed my adopted tribe, and if I was there, if Talvi was there, we could have prevented it. I still blame myself for Turgon’s and my adopted tribe’s abduction. I will live with this shame till my body is returned to the land.”

A quiet then settles, and out of no where a breeze stirs the grasses. It dances across the grasses, and then surrounds the two men, as if it is a caress. The breeze is a gentle one. It caresses. It soothes. It carries the scents of summer, as well as the touch of forgiveness. Looking up at Børæn, Orpo sees no anger but in place a peaceful calm.

“We decided that these Black and White cloaks were the ones behind the abduction. As is typical with the soft ones in the south, we had to “discus” matters. The details are not important, just that we learned of a rot festering in the heart of the Church of the Light.” At mentioning of the Church of the Light, Børæn spits. Even now, many years after the events, he is angry at the so called ‘Light’."

“Traveling south, we learned that indeed this so called religion of peace, was in fact a den of lies, deceit and evil. The church * spit * supported these Lightbringers, and it was they who abducted Turgon and my adopted tribe."

“We tracked down a location of a gathering of these White Cloaks. We noticed that one of them was the apparent leader, and when I saw him, Belàldur had all he could do to stop me from rushing in right then. So I waited and my rage grew.”

Orpo looks at Børæn and sees the look he has seen many times: being lost in his remembrance. It is if, after all these years, he still feels he is there now.

“As soon as the coward left, I looked to Talvi and she knew. It was time to hunt. Kicking my horse, we took to the wind and raced to capture our prey. Some of my companions followed, but I did not stop. All Talvi and I cared about was delivering Me’sha’s rage upon our prey."

traitor.png “After about two hours, we caught up to him. How I am still not sure, one minute he was on his horse, the next he was on the ground. It made no difference, I leaped from my saddle and grappled the man. He struggled, but soon Lohikäärme Hammas was in hand, as my companions arrived during my questioning. Yes, before you asked, I did not question him in the ways of the Wolf. I showed restraint. I only hobbled him, and broke he shoulders. It is amazing what it takes to break someone who feels they are strong. We learned what we needed, and I carved into his chest “Traitor” in the runes of our people.”

“Learning from the coward of a farmhouse that Turgon was being kept, we made haste to there. Me’sha’s rage was still with me, and we rode with her as the wind pushed us on.”

“The details of what went next is not important. Swords sliced, magic was flung, and blood flowed. I found Turgon, near death’s door, but it was due to the aid of Grel, who up until then I thought was like a Pop-in-Jay (all sound no will). Turgon lived, still weak, but he lived.”

As if on cure, the wolf cub runs up to Børæn barking in pleasure. In a blur, Børæn, grabs the cub and whispers to the young one. Their is happiness here. Børæn’s hardness, softens as the cub licks his face. Their is a tenderness as well s he rubs the cub’s ears.

“There is more to this tale Merkitä Muistiin, but that can wait. The sun is setting, and you know the queen is not happy if I am late.”

Orpo chuckles at the dichotomy that is Børæn. “Go. Go. We can talk again.”

Orpo watches as Børæn whistles for Talvi and gently places Turgon to the ground. The three head down the roading to the village and the hearth of Børæn’s lodge. In their wake, Orpo feels a slight breeze stir the air agian. It gently touches his cheek. Like a dream, the breeze leaves and rustles the grasses lining the road Børæn walks, and as if it was his companion, it blows gently round him in harmony as he walks.

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How did I get involved in heresy?
Balto's Journal

Well, that was a nice little mess. I don’t get this whole religion thing, but these humans are consumed over who worships and how.

Boraen has sworn an oath of vengeance on – among others – the white-cloaks and black-cloaks who attacked Meesha’s shrine near Ulichton, driving away the goblyns rescued from the monastery and seizing the humans. The goblyns turned up safe – and, says Borean, druidic! – a little ways off. If like littlelings, these goblyns have an affinity for nature, perhaps I could get them to plant a few apple trees in memory of my father….

But I digress. Grel is desperate to discover who these Lightbringers in white cloaks are, who are assaulting the adherents of Tangadorin. Several of his flock have been badly beaten and their outlying farms fired.

It turns out there is another god being worshiped, Vaneer, the brother of Meesha. No word on whether any of this flock are being bothered, but lets lump these guys in with the Meeshans for now.

(And let’s not forget that fool Wikton and his god, that enlivened our last trip south!)

Mazlor is aghast that anyone would think the Light should be spread so militantly – though he knows there are many to the south who are more aggressive in putting down non-Light worship. His superior, Averin, and he made sure there were no Lightbringers in the Temple, so we tried to figure out where they were from. All signs pointed south, so we travelled back along the road to Reynalt’s fort. There, we got intelligence that led us to the leader of the Lightbringers, and we followed him to a farmhouse where he stopped, went in, and rode off again. We split the party and Boarean, Talvi, Mazlor, Itsy, and Belaldur followed the leader.

Sally, Fergus, Willie, Josef, Pyria, and I waited and followed the second man to leave the farmhouse. He led us to the gathering place, where seven other Lightbringers were waiting in a barn. Pyria distracted them while Sally quickly cast sleep, and we bound them all. Before we could leave, though, the daughter of the farmer in whose barn we were came looking for her father. Sally let the child in the barn, and cast Remove Fear – all that did was raise the volume on her outrage! I stepped up and gagged and bound her, but left a gold piece as an apology. Well, I wrote an apology, too, but it was in ancient Dwarfish, to try to cover our tracks.

Our parties met back at the Lightbringer leader’s farm. The other party had caught and, it appeared, tortured the man. All the worshippers – Tangadorin, Meeshan, Lightish – seemed OK with this, though maybe Grel was a bit green. We took our prisoners to the Keep so the Marshal could deal with the laws broken. We also took their horses.

This leader, named Keanax, said he took his orders from higher up the heirarchy than Mazlor or Averin. So great, now we have the worshipers of the Light, and Lite worshipers? What’s next, the People’s Front of Enonia? Looks like a nice little fight brewing over heresy. Still, I tried to focus on our next task – the rescue of Turgen from a Lightbringer cell holed up on a farm near Draycott. Despite some sort of clumsy trap that caught both Willie and Belaldur, we did well. I did a classic backstab on one guard who never saw me coming! But that was the only death. After Mazlor imposed his will upon the leader, the rest surrendered. Grel healed Turgen’s injuries, for which Turgen gave thanks to Meesha. Everyone except Grel got a chuckle over that. We took them all back to the Marshal for trial.

I guess next up, we look at the black cloaks? I’m getting too old for this!

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Bringing the Lightbringers to Justice!
Grel’s report

We left town on the 45th day of summer. We had some heated discussions on which direction we should go to root out these criminals. Boraen had information that his people had been taken both North and South. After talking with the Marshall, it seemed that to the North are the Black Brotherhood. The servants of the Dark Ones who had mocked us outside the Monastery. He informed us that there were probably 12 companies of them, too many for us to deal with.
When talking to Averin, the opposition in Steltin and the hard line of Dame Orden had come up. I recalled how Jorann’s offer to come and help had been repulsed. Could they be the source of the Lightbringers, or just giving aid?
We decided south would be the best plan. We spoke with Raynauld, he did not have any information. We spent some time in the taverns talking to people about happenings. My companions did not get any good information. However, there was one creepy guy who seemed a little too sweet on me for my comfort, however, I held back my revulsion and drank and spoke with him. He had some information! A friend of his had clammed up after talking about a work duty. After another drink, he told me that he lived on a farm a 15 min walk outside of Deltin. Another drink and I learnt his name, Tyalen., and
We continued to Deltin. There we spent the night decided to head over to the farm the next day. Tangadorin was with us! We were observing the farm, hoping to learn something when a rider rode up, went inside and shortly after, rode off.
I knew immediately that this was the organizer who we needed to question! The party split up. I rode after Boraen, with Mazlor, Itsy and Beladur at my side. Sally stayed behind with Balto, Fergus, Pyria and the two farm hands.
We chased him for two hours without gaining any ground. The sun was beginning to set, there was only one hour of light left! I called upon Tangadorin to guide my hand and slowed my steed to take a couple shots at his horse. I had to stop or slow that horse so that we could catch him! He had the answers we needed! Tangadorin was with me, for both shots hit. My first shot did little damage, but clearly Tangadorin touched the second arrow, for it went completely through the horse! The rider tumbled off the dead horse, and I knew he was ours!
Boraen lept off his horse to grapple the man. Beladur wanted to throw his net, but there was no need. Boraen had the man pinned in no time. Boraen questioned the man. It was hard to watch, but the Marshall had told him that he could do as he must, just to bring him back alive and able to answer questions, so I reminded myself of his crimes and held my piece.
He admitted to having taken Turgin and gave Boraen directions. He had some magical leather armor, which I felt would be good for the elf, he seemed to like it. We returned to the farmhouse with our prisoner. There we found our companions had captured 8 of the villains! A good day indeed!
We took them all to the Marshall’s keep and handed them over for trial. The marshall questioned them and found them guilty. The most troubling thing was that the head villain, Keanax, claimed that his orders came straight from the high holy and the flames.
I sincerely hope that this is not true, as it would be very bad for us.
The next day we followed Boraen to rescue Turgin. We found the farm where he was being held and planned an assault. Things did not go quite as planned. Balto backstabbed one guard and killed him, but Beladur failed to go unnoticed and engaged the second guard. He called for help, and two men came from each house, plus a swordswoman who charged Boraen. Mazlor held her and the men surrendered. We took them all back to the Marhall for trial!

I do not know if we have cleared the area of the Lightbringers, but we should have at least given them a pause. Hopefully, the Marshall will get information from them and make an example of them!

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The rescue of Yinnivax
Grel’s report

It was the 34th day of summer, the Marshall had put Capt. Pellin and his 100 cavalry men under our command to rescue Sir Yinnivax. He had stressed to us that he needed those men free, but Sir Yinnivax’s rescue was paramount, he was need for the Duke plans.

So we set out to rescue sir Yinnivax, the company consisted of myself, Boraen, Ragar, Beladur, Pyria, Balto, Fergus and Ostlen. We had racked our brains trying to plan the rescue. The best we could come up with was a full assault using fire to divert them.

While traveling the scouts encountered a couple dire wolves, but they dealt with them without too much damage. Ragar and a couple scouts were hurt. One of the scouts, by the name of Narvy, was badly hurt I used the healing touch of Tangadorin upon him and he was mightily impressed! I spent a good bit of my traveling time telling him of the wonders of Tangadorin. He has since become a true believer and has promised to come to hear our services soon.

We reached the city without much other trouble. The three rouges Balto, Beladur and Ostlen chose to sneak up to the city so that Balto could get in and explain the plan to Sir Yinnivax and deliver the healing potions to allow the wounded to be mobile.

Beladur ended up distracting the orcs while Ostlen and Balto scaled the wall. The, while he engaged them the archers on the wall distracted them, allowing beladur to kill one and run the other off. He then joined his fellows in the keep, where they told Sir Yinnivax our plan.

At Midnight we began our assault! One company of calvalry charged down the path, Two companies attacked towards the orc commander. My fellows and I started it off by throwing fire off to the side of the road and the archers in the keep started another near the commander.

The battle went even better than we could have hoped! My friends and I killed 10 of the Orc cavalry that were charging the cavalry headed down the middle, they broke and ran!
The archers killed 10 orc infantry and they ran too!

The orc archers killed a unit of our cavalry coming down the center and broke them.

We retaliated by killing some archers and the other cavalry unit both fled!! Within a few minutes the field was ours as the Orc commander ran off the field calling for reinforcements.

We mounted Yinnivax’s men and charged off the field victorious!!

We decided that we were too large a force to go unnoticed, so we had Capt. Pellin give Yinnivax’s men the mounts and have them flee back to the fort while we headed to the villa. We were sure that they would follow us.

We saw no sign of them, and when we reached the villa it became apparent that the orcs had gone after Yinnivax instead. My Friends and I headed back to Enonia to make sure that he had made it safe. All was well, Yinnivax was pursued, but made it safe!

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Rescue from Irecia's North Keep!
Balto's Journal

I had been away with Fergus when the first rescue attempt was made, to bring Ynnivax and his men and the King’s men out of Irecia’s North Keep. That had not gone well, as too few men had been brought. But it brought back some intelligence, and a plan was hatched to save them. Fergus and I, and our newly-equipped farmboys-turned-fighters Willie and Josef, mustered with the rest of the Marshal’s men, commanded by Captain Pellen. All told, there were well over a hundred of those men, plus the group I rode with: Ostlen, Fergus, Grel, Boraen and Talvi his wolf, Ragar, and Pyria.

Once out of town, Ragar led the scouts ahead to screen us. Around midday, Talvi began to fret and whine. Boraen said there is some danger to us, and a scout rode back to tell Pellen to be cautious, as there was someone or something big stalking us. Suddenly, two dire wolves charged at the scouts!

Ragar was able to get off a couple shots with his bow, and hits one before being bitten himself. Ragar, with the help of one scout, dispatched the first dire wolf. One of the scouts was pulled from his horse by the second beast. That one is surrounded and slain by the rangers as we galloped up. Boraen and Grel bind up our injured, and Grel lays his hands on the worst-afflicted scout, name of Narvey, who he then tells all about the wonders of his deity Tangadorin. Meanwhile, Borean hacks the head from one of the dire wolf carcasses. We ride on until dusk, set up camp, and pass an restful night.

The following day, we made for an abandoned village to the north of Irecia. We could see the gleaming white towers of Irecia from the village. Grel and Narvey started singing the praises of Tangadorin as I emptied my pack and filled it with as many healing potions as I could fit in. Joined by Ostlen and Belaldur, I made for the North Keep, following Beladur’s lead.

Ostlen and I make the wall as Belaldur makes some noise to attract the attention of two orcs nearby. Men appear atop the wall above us as we climb and shoot fire arrows behind the orcs to distract and dismay them, and as they fled, Belaldur killed one. Ostlen reassured the soldiers inside that we are a rescue party, and I clambered over the wall with the healing draughts. Belaldur joined us inside, and we went among the injured and bring them back to fighting strength. Ostlen, meanwhile, has explained the rescue plan to Ynnivax, and we rested until midnight.

The rest of our party set a brush fire to the east of the road at midnight, and at that the archers in the keep shoot arrows out to set another the the west of the fortifications. The Marshal’s men come onto the field to confront the besieging orcs, and the battle largely goes in our favor. I think some of our rescue cavalry fled the field, but the fire and confusion made it hard to tell, and we managed to get all 80 of the men we rescued back to the rally point for a quick meal.

Ynnivax was concerned that the orc chief was able to withdraw in good order, and we knew pursuit would not be long in coming.So we split the party and set off within the hour, sending the rescued men with an escort back to the fort on the site of the old Dalewoods Inn. The rest of us made our way north, leaving a trail to draw pursuit. It wasn’t to be, though – we never saw pursuit, and when we made it to the villa where more men and supplies awaited us, we learned the orcs had gone after Ynnivax. Still, he’d a good enough start that we trusted he made it to safety, and we fell into an exhausted sleep.

Next day, we made our way back to the fort, where Ynnivax thanked us and filled us in as best he could. Irecia seems a right hellhole, but Boraen swears a blood oath to go clean it out. Our Duke is planning a push to capture Yew and the Marshal will capture Notchland Keep, plus Ynnivax is concerned the trolls are causing problems in the south, so that may have to take a back seat. Well, and who knows how many blood oaths Borean has outstanding?

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Going South
Balto's Journal

BaltoAfter our foray into the monastery, Fergus and I fared south. If Ja’Kar was going to settle the odd goblyns he and I rescued at Meesha’s shrine, they were going to need protecting. Not a one of them seemed to know the first thing about weapons! I wasn’t all that sure a baker and a few hangers-on would be able to do anything if orcs came raiding, either. And Ja’Kar isn’t going to be around to help them, either, anymore. I miss that monk!

So, anyhow, Fergus and I decided to go recruiting. Pickings in Enonia were pitiful – the Marshal had taken the best men, and those who didn’t want his banner had gone to new bands of mercenaries. Not wanting to take on the black or white or gold cloaks ourselves, we chose to go south towards Riverton. A young blacksmith’s apprentice, Wikton (Wiki for short), was going the same way and joined our party. He didn’t say much, seemed a bit lost. And he followed yet another god! Asterix or something like that. I figured Wikton’s master had been one of the men ridden down by the orc cavalry at the battle a couple of weeks ago. Still, one more person in the party meant one more to stand watch – and one more to fight, if it came down to it.

We were slowed a bit as we had two steeds between three of us, but we did alright. We saw a few Wild Men in the forest verge a little after passing Sir Reynalt’s fort, but they were shy and we did not trouble them. We pass by a few small villages, and the children are charmed to see me – I’m thinking it has been years since littlelings came through here. Or maybe they just liked my pony.

Comes nightfall, and we are at Draycott, a larger village, where we take a good meal and a room at the inn. Wikton helps a local blacksmith and earns some cash, and I sell the garb I acquired from Rho for a few coins.

The next day, all hell breaks loose. A posse of liveried guards tried to collect a heavy toll on us, and as I’m arguing with them, Wikton goes all weird and religious. He casts some magic spell on the captain of the guard and gets ready to fight, but Fergus and I make him stand down and he gets hauled off to answer for his crime to the local authority, Lord Winright. Fergus and I go along to see if we can help him – though we don’t know him, Wikton is a travel companion.

We establish that the guards were trying to shake us down, and Winright is annoyed at that. He’s also annoyed that Wikton tries to convert him, and that Wikton cursed one of his guards. Impressed he was, though, that Fergus and I had been named heroes by the Marshal, and he offered to let Wikton continue with us if we’d free him of several trolls stealing the ore from his mines. I wanted to get back to help free Ynnivax, though, and Fergus wanted to get some fighters to Ulichton to defend the place, so we left promising to return by the end of the summer.

We did manage to recruit a couple of farmboys, Josef and Willie. Close friends they were, sharing the same mug at the Raven’s Nest in Draycott. We promised to get them into the action in the rescue, and if they did well, we would make them the first recruits to the Falcons.

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The Blood Oath of Børæn
The Chronicle of Børæn

Børæn walks into the inn, and at his side walks Talvi.

The first thing everyone notices is that both man and wolf have a red hand print on their faces. The second thing they notice is that both wolf and man seem to mirror each other’s mood. They are angry. The two look like the dark clouds of summer that fill the sky before it opens and the lightning strikes the land.

Sitting, he speaks in a low harsh voice.

Evil has befallen Turgon and the shrine of Me’sha. My travels there had me find no one. In fact, you do not find anyone; even the Little Ones (goblyns) are gone.

What did I find? The signs of battle. Blood splashed on the ground. Some human, some not, most likely the blood of the Little Ones. Furthermore one of the buildings has the signs of an attempted burning, but that doesn’t appear to have fully happened – either the fire did not fully start or it was put out.

I was, and still am, angry.

Very. Angry.

When I entered Me’sha’s shrine I sat and mediated. I was then struck by a vision. I still see it in my eyes.

I opened them and saw a lovely woman standing there. There were flowers in her hair, a riotous collage of colors and shapes. She looked at me, but was distracted.

“I’ve already accepted you, why do you need proof? Does not the spring turn to summer? Will it not happen? Do you need the sun to come thump you on the head to personally let you know that it’s happening? You interest me, but this pedantic droning of do this, I need that… enough!” she snaps. “My people are spread out, some taken, some killed. And you want something? Save my people. You’ll have your purpose. Go save my people to the north and to the south. Find the riders in black and the riders in gold. THEY need to pay for what they’ve done!” Suddenly the temperature drops and frost is all around you, chilling you to the bone. Her hands are covered in ice, clenched in fists and her eyes shine with the cold of winter.

And then… she was gone, and quick as a spring rain. Time returned to me, and Talvi was at my side, and within her eyes I saw my vengeance reflected.

Leaving the shrine, Talvi and I begun our search. We found no bodies. Only the remains of battle. From what I could tell, there were probably a few deaths, but I am not a tracker.

We did find two separate sets of tracks and marks of battle. The ones from the south came in on horse and foot. The ones from the north came on horseback. It was hard to tell who came first, or at what time, or if separately.

The more we searched, we found other things. First Ja’Kar’s glaive still stood but the flowers and vines are withered. But the glaive remains and is untouched.

Talvi, much to her amusement confined the two trails I “found,” but she found a third leading east into the Dark Woods. The trail was that of goblyn.

I unslung my two axes, and whispered to Talvi it was time to hunt. We have hunted all of our life, and I let her lead, following some paces behind. I hoped for a battle, and bringing the bracelet of Ja’Kar to my mouth I kissed and whispered: “Use me as the weapon of your fury Me’sha, and let me vent your rage upon your enemies.”

Ten. Fifteen minutes pass as we hunted. Talvi sometimes in the lead, sometimes I am in the lead, but the trail leads directly east.

Talvi suddenly stopped. Then she did something rare, and something she has never done in a hunt, she whined! Laying down she was alert, but respectful?

I left Talvi and approached the area and saw something I still do not believe.

The Little Ones were here, and were tending… a garden. Roughly a fifty foot diameter circle, the vines from the glaive, were here and wild flowers grew about..

One of the Little Ones clearly showed has if he was badly wounded, and their numbers were smaller.

Entering, I simply spoke: “Hello Little Ones it is I Børæn. I have returned to a disturbing scene. What has happened to our friends? Me’sha has given me a terrible vision. You know me and Talvi can we come to you and offer you aid? Could you tell me what happened?”

At first, they kept to their gardening. It was then that I noticed bandages on their heads, over their eyes. And yet, they moved about, tending very carefully to the plants and small bushes. A couple of them appeared to simply be sitting in front of a flower, perhaps meditating. Their movements seemed very deliberate, precise, worshipful.

If that was not strange enough, the Little Ones looked as if they were dancing while they carried out their work. Every plant they touched, and then seemed to grow. Truly the goddess works through them.

It was then, a severely injured one approached me. It isn’t bleeding, but scabs and deep cuts are testament it was a victim of a brutal attack. Though he did not speak, he took my hand and traced the cut from which I took my blood oath. He sniffed it, and then pointed both north and south. No words were spoken, but he pat Talvi on her head, who seemed to suddenly appear, and the Little One then went back to work with the gardeners.

When I went to buy red paint I meet Thjoldoff who I shared a few drinks with. While we played cards I told him about the Lightbringers we have meet, as well as what I had seen at the home of my adopted clan. He then went on to tell me much.

He’s heard more about the so-called “Lightbringers”, the folks in the taverns and inns are very opinionated about them. Some are glad as they were worried about the effects of the “cultists” of the old gods causing problems. They think that perhaps Averin was a bit too friendly/soft, compared to what Phaellym (the former priest who killed himself) used to say. Others think that the Lightbringers don’t act much like the more popular priests of the Light, such as Mazlor “the Mighty”, and they think they act like thugs. Nobody is really sure where they come from and some wonder if the Lightbringers are actually friends and neighbors.

He heard a couple of bards saying that there was news from Yew about the fall of that town. They’d heard them playing in old Fawn, a few days out from Enonia. News that MEN were in league with the Orcs. That they wore black. If they are raiding this far south. It was this part that made his mood grow darker.

I am no Lore Spinner, or Story Teller. This is what I have discovered and learned.

Though I have made the blood oath to free the city, my adopted clan is in danger. My goddess is angry and calls for me to bring her rage. Nothing is more important than this. Nothing. This speaks of a growing evil and darkness, and it is up to not only Talvi and I, but all of us to stand against it.

It is then the man stands and unfurls what can only be described as a banner.

Boraen-Banner.png

This is banner of my hunt. It will fly as Talvi and I hunt my prey. I will fight, and I hope you do the same.

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To save Ynivax
Life of Pyria

It was a lucky escape, the Orcs were spread out and the plan to sneak into the Keep with healing potions worked, although it seems Belàldur had some difficulty.

Having made our way to the Keep the plan was to send in the critical healing potions and at least get the men inside to a point that they could act as a unit and move out. At the appointed time the rest of us moved forward, Pellin and some of the cavalry came from the NW, another group of cavalry with extra horses came down the road in order to clear an escape path. We set about starting a fire to the East of the road, hoping to prevent any rush of Orcs from that direction. As we lit the fires, archers from the Keep started a blaze NW of the Keep, providing some cover for the escape.

This could have been a bloody battle, but the Orc Chieftain and Ogre were caught in the open, Pellin and his cavalry charged at them. As Ynivax and his men left the keep his archers stayed behind and routed a group of cavalry coming from the East. A battle ensued by the road but we prevailed, the archers routing another group. Unfortunately our cavalry clearing the path left the battlefield in flight. The Orc Chieftain attempted to rally some troops to fend off Pellin and his cavalry but to no avail, soon his troops were gone and he decided discretion was the better part of valor.

With Orcs gone we took Ynivax and his men to the villa where they could be fed and given aid. Once rested they headed for the Fort, our rearguard warned us of the Orcs that were following us. We hoped to decoy them, but they did not take the bait and instead went after Ynivax and his men. Fortunately they reached the safety of the Fort before the Orcs reached them.

By all measure this was a success, even a resounding one, but I cannot help feeling that we are pushing against the tide. There is so much to be done and we cannot possibly do it all.

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Getting the Job Done Ugly
Belàldur recounts the Fort rescue and prepares for what's next...

Another arrow buried itself in the dead tree beside the others with a thunk. Streaks of sweat running down either side of his face, Belàldur watched the arrow strike from his standpoint sixty yards away. With a look of dissatisfaction, the green-eyed elf reached back over his shoulder to grab another arrow. Behind him, the fool human was still prattling on about Tangadorin. Belàldur made no effort to stop him; he considered the soldier’s proselytizing to be a good source of motivation to reach his training goals quickly.

Nock.
Draw.
Release.

Another arrow sped towards the tree. As it struck home, something the man said caught Belàldur’s attention, and he turned to speak. He knew that he shouldn’t, going against the zeal of the newly converted was like sailing against the wind, but he couldn’t resist. “You think it was the Will of Tangadorin that got the job done today?” he asked in a quiet but firm tone, looking the man square in the eye, “I’ll tell you what won the day out there: Flames and fear.”

“Think of the orcs’ perspective. They were spread out, surrounding the keep, thinking all they had to do was to wait for Ynivax and his forces to die or break, starve them out. And they were nearly at that point. Then, the flames start up, coming out of the ground at seemingly random places. Started by my companions, who had snuck out on the field, and from the archers in the Keep, who fortunately had plenty of oil to make fire-tipped arrows. Then, arrow attacks start coming from different directions, followed by an attack from the forces suddenly coming out of the Keep, and then, as the final wave against the bow, a massed cavalry charge straight into the forces protecting the orcs’ commander. It’s no wonder they broke.”

“Like most of the battles I’ve seen, the side that runs first dies. It was ugly, but we got the job done. Some of our forces ran too in the chaos, but most held firm, and we got them out. No magic, no miracles, no hero’s tales, just the right circumstances and a bit of luck.”

“The mission to get the folks in the fort ready to escape hadn’t exactly gone according to plan either, but it worked. The three of us were supposed to sneak in and get Ynivax’ men some healing potions and brief them on our plan. The enemy was spread thin, but I spent most of the way to the keep worried that the orcs would hear the human’s loud breathing. I was so distracted that when we were getting up to the keep, I fell right to the ground. The things in my pack made so much clatter the dullest orc alive would’ve noticed it.”

“Then, to dive deeper into the piranha, I tried to put some arrows into the oncoming orcs, and only managed to drive my newly-purchased bow into the dirt. I’m still paying for that one.” Belàldur winced, the pain in his side surging with the memory of the wound there. Turning back to the tree, he fired off a quick arrow at it, then faced the soldier again to continue: “Luckily, the archers in the keep were on watch, and when my two friends got over the wall and let them know what was going on, their fire arrows spooked off the orcs. I made one of them pay when it panicked. As I said, the first side to run dies.”

“All in all, not pretty in the least, but we did get it done.” Facing the tree, he raised the six foot long elm bow once again towards the target. The soldier started up again about Tangadorin. Apparently, all it took was a little healing magic and a few words to convert some humans into devoted lunatics.

Nock.
Draw.
Release.

Thunk.

Satisfied, Belàldur put down his bow and arrows and turned about, looking for a good place to sit. Once comfortable, he thrust his hand into his pouch and pulled out a pipe and some leaf. He lit it, took a few puffs, and let out a long, slow exhaled cloud. He held the pipe out to the soldier, offering it to him. “Here, have some of this, you can relax and think on your new beliefs. And no matter what you believe, remember this: When you’re in stormy seas, always keep your wits about you.”

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The Attack on the Keep
The Chronicle of Børæn

It is spring in the North.

Though snow still chokes the mountains, and many of mountain passes are still dangerous to travel.

Life is returning.

Standing on an outcropping is a large man. Though grey streaks both his hair, and beard, he still looks as if he could take on a host of men with just his sword. Lounging in the sun, is a grey wolf. Though the years have been many, she looks as sharp as ever. Well, if she was not busy sleeping in the warm spring sun.

As the old man makes his way toward his King, he notices Børæn holds a wolf cub. The cub sleeps, while Børæn gently strokes the cub’s head. The old man, once again thinks that Børæn is like the weather, just when you think the storm will never break, it does, and a gentleness caresses the land.

“Perhaps Børæn is a true worshiper of the goddess Me’sha,” thinks the man. “Maybe he is correct, the goddess is like the tribe, and she mirrors us.”

“I hear you Merkitä Muistiin,” rumbles Børæn.

“If I wanted to surprise you boy, I could. I would laugh as I gut you where you stand.”

Børæn laughs, and the laughter rolls across the valley. “I see age have not dulled your words Orpo. Come old one, stand with me, your presence is always welcomed. Besides, Talvi likes you, and if I tried to stop you, she would bite my ass.”

Hearing her name, Talvi picks her head up, and barks as if in agreement. The two men laugh.

The old man walks to Børæn’s side, and notices the wolf cub.

“So Talvi has picked your new guide?”

“Yes, this little one will learn from his mother, and on his naming day, he will take het role. We will hunt together. Though Talvi is tired, and I know the time nears, I would hunt by her side till my life expires,” Børæn says with a hint of sadness. “This little one will have a large trail to follow. His mother’s lore is long. She would not have chosen him if she thought he would not be her equal.”

Talvi barks in agreement, and once again puts her head down and enjoys the warm spring sun.

Silence deepens, and the two men stand, looking out over the valley and enjoying the warming Spring sun. From here they see some of the tribe beginning to till the fields so the summer crops can be planted. They see the trappers and hunters returning from a week of clearing and laying traps. The notice the growing contingent of Me’sha’s priests aiding the preparation of the planting. Orpo, even after all these years cannot believe the changes Børæn has brought. The Wolf Tribe is strong, stronger than it has ever been. Though many bristled at the change Børæn brought, they all agree that the changes did not weaken them, but forged them into something stronger.

“So you had questions Orpo, ask them.”

Clearing his throat, the old man speaks: “I wanted to talk to you about Irecia and the battle at the Keep which saved the men and the great victory you were a participant. I know you told me it was after this battle that you and Talvi took a blood oath to clear the city of Chaos’ taint. What was the fight like?”

Stroking the sleeping wolf cub, Børæn thinks for a moment.

“My companions and a host of men rode to the city. We killed 30 orc. We rescued the men. We lost the Keep,” Børæn states in a matter-of-fact tone.

Shaking his head Orpo asks: “What of the battle? What of the plans? Details young one, details!”

“We rode to the city. We set fire to the grassland to cause confusion and cover our attack. My companions and I killed 30 orc and rescued the men.”

Again Orpo shakes his head, “You are such a tiring…”

Børæn turns to face the old man. Anger darken his face, and Børæn’s gaze flames with flame.

“We lost. We allowed the Orcs to win, even though we rescued the men. We allowed the Chaos of Irecia to fester. Instead of devising a plan to enter the city, some decided to prattle about their God and convert the simple. The so called noble Southerners retreated to their soft homes and decided to do what they always do: talk, plan, talk, plan, and avoid the correct decision. That decision was to plan and enter the city. So, no my friend, this was not a victory. It was defeat, and I allowed my honor to take a backseat to the softness of others.”

Orpo, looks at Børæn, and sees something he only saw in the man when he was a child: regret. The anger is a mask of the shame this proud man has, and it is obvious that he, even now, is still sadden by the events. Orpo, once again is surprised by the depth of Børæn’s soul. He wishes his King would drop his mask, and let his true personalty shine. Placing an aged hand on the Børæn’s arm, Orpo looks to man, who was once a headstrong youth.

“Let the shame go my friend. Do not be like your father who let his shame and ego nearly destroy this tribe. Your shame is not a weakness, it is the lessons that help guided, and still guide you along your true path. The past is called the past for a reason. Remember what I have always told you: It is not the what if, but the because. Because you rescued those men, what were the events after this?”

The old man turns and begins to walk away.

“When will you stop teaching me Orpo?” asks Børæn simply.

“When you stop acting like a child my friend. When you stop acting liking a child,” chuckles Orpo as he leaves.

The wolf cub wakes, stretches, licks Børæn’s face, and then nestles himself back into Børæn’s arms.

Børæn, still stands, looking across the valley.

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