Tales from Forgotten Europa

The Plot Thickens

Blood on the high seas flow to Archangel

From the journal of Captain Kal Deigo Date: 1039 Seasons on the Third Moon

I’ve often found myself wondering if I was born into a crazy world or if I simply am a weirdness magnet. I’ve been traveling together with my strange quartet for quite sometime now and every day something new and intresting happens…

We we’re sitting at the campfire on our way back from “the lost road” and me overhearing a conversation between a GOD and Reathe. (see yesterday’s journal entry) and I thought it would be a good time for me to take Reathe aside to talk to him about these recent events. As I stand to leave; I see Dorak holding his hammer drifting into the fire, his knuckles turning ivory white with strain and his eyes swimming. I hear him mutter something…

“Sun to a boy is a toy Sun spinning by his bed Not what is seems… Cut off your head..”

Then his head snapped up and he went back to tooling his weapon. Frankly, the only reason why it even stuck out to me was the lilting tune he muttered it in. I’ve always been a fan of music and I seem to have a gift for getting songs stuck in my head.

I spoke to Reathe and questioned him about Byordin’s words, I knew that he had done something to walk the path of the slayer, but when he said he slew his own clan for a sin they had committed… I never realized. Dwarves clans can be hundreds even thousands of members deep. My adopted clan, Hardforge, is relatively small with only 342 members including myself. (I should know… I had to memorize every name and all of the fathers, boy was that a fight! I thought Ashka was going to murder me when she found my cheat notes…)

Anyway… I feel for Reathe, the more I speak to him the more tortured I feel he is. But for once, I see hope. If he can save the last of his clan, then he can be free, I just hope he can save himself. I’ve traveled the seven seas, I’ve seen the black fields of glass in the west and I’ve seen the remains of giant walkers in Afrika, I know men make deals with devils by their actions… and I know a cursed man when I see one. I can cheat at cards like no ones business… maybe I can help him win a bit of himself back…

Enough for now… We’ll be back in Archangel in the morn.

(2nd Journal entry) From the journal of Captain Kal Deigo Date: 1039 Seasons on the Full Moon

I have killed men tonight. I have killed men whose souls I dam to the most unimaginable depths of hell. The Lord, Vicilli, has shed my cousin’s blood these last 3 nights. He has shed this scared ether to bait me out but I wasn’t here…I was in the city of lies.

I apparently have made an enemy by refusing to be extorted on the river. He has made a grievous mistake this day. I offered challenge and like a coward he sends his minions. They were all dispatched but one made the death confession of who his master was and that he resides in Mosko.

I have also made the Warbond between me and my companions real by voicing it aloud to a council of Dwarves elders. This should be clear to the Dwarves, they know honor and they should know that the blood they ALSO split on the rivers flows here from dwarven veins. By speaking the Warbond allowed, we are warrior kin and bound by steel. The human has no sense of things… his reaction was simply “I won’t kill someone for no reason”… since we have been together; his hands are the most stained. He has burned and killed a group of poor press ganged minions, he spilled the most blood on the river when he could have easily made false gold or some other deception instead of hurling spheres of arcane flames and he has been called both deceiver and murderer in the City by the mad painter. It’s amazing how easily people forget that. I have not. Perhaps I judge hard but even without understanding the Warbond, a man should understand other men and know his own sins.

In the plus column, the girls are all right, thank the divine masses (any god good enough to listen), but Ashka has every right to be cross. Killing a dwarf is like killing an ancient oak, the life you snuff has taken hundreds of years to culminate and its roots dig into the very center of the earth. 3 have passed and all due to me coming here.

And I saw the lady in white again… for a split second she sung her tune and haunts me. As I fought Vicilli’s murders, I heard it and made it my own. With every note my blade grew more precise and the din of battle grew silent.

I will ponder this more but for now I need to travel. We head for Mosko in the morn.

Comments

Raethe settled into camp barely able to settle his heart and mind. His head spun with thoughts that are best left to philosophers and theologians. Matters of the soul, not the sort of delicate things one would expect someone like him to be concerned with, but here he was, pondering his immortal soul and whether the ends justified the means. He sat away from the campfire this night, looking back in the direction they came from more than a little relieved that he couldn’t quite tell if he’s looking in the right spot. The lost road, the City of Truth and Lies, and the uncertainty of the past few days were happily left behind.

His direction was clear once again. His path illuminated in blinding light by the Father of all Dwarves. As much as it was penance and punishment, Raethe took it as the first sign of hope in many years, and his sleep was peaceful that night.

Raethe spent the morning in silence until Kal made an unusually direct request for the dwarf to accompany him to the river to replenish the water stores. Both of them knew that the previous day’s events needed to be dealt with, and that it was best done between the two of them for now.

Since it was pointless to discuss the events themselves, as any words Raethe possessed could never fully encapsulate what truly transpired, he decided to deal with the “why.” Kal had heard everything, and felt the awesome power of Asgard in Beordin’s hall. He had also heard (and likely felt) the power of His anger with Raethe. So Raethe explained without mincing words. He explained to Kal that Beordin’s grudge was born from Raethe’s slaughter of his entire clan in the decades before their meeting. Raethe felt a surprising sense of relief in finally voicing this out loud, and simply left it there for the time being. He could tell Kal didn’t quite grasp what he was just told, and watched as the confession began to dawn on him. That was enough for one day.

After breaking down camp, the party made its way toward Arkangyl mostly in silence. It wasn’t going to be a long march, but the approach of a dwarven outrider would speed the pace. He was a young member of the Hardforge clan, the house that had for all purposes adopted Kal. The rider informed him that there had been some trouble the past few days, and that Hardforge blood had been spilled. With barely a look, Kal bolted toward the city gates with Raethe at his heels.

Kal crashed through the front door of The Gentle Anvil and raced to the forge where he could hear Ashka working. Raethe positioned himself in front of the door as two of Ashka’s clansmen emerged to stand guard.

We knew it was Vasilli’s work long before Kal was presented with yet another calling card found on one of the Hardforge clan’s victims. Kal’s outrage was justified, and he wasted no time in letting the Council of Arkangyl know that there would be blood in the streets that night. While the Council agreed it was a clan matter, they made it clear there was to be no collateral damage as a result of this feud. In truth they were worried that Kal’s barbarian slayer companion would be a problem running around unchecked within the city walls. At the insinuation, Kal proclaimed the Warbond in presence of the council and that seemed to allay their fears. They knew that at least if things got out of hand Kal would be accountable. All in all, Raethe was surprised that the bureaucrats were so accommodating, but considered the whole presentation a waste of time.

One note that he took away was the protests of Dorak and Khalid. Neither was too happy about being dragged into a street fight for reasons they seemed not to fathom. Khalid’s lack of understanding was no surprise, and while Raethe had seen him effortlessly slaughter many an enemy, he seemed to be less and less inclined to unleash his battle-magic lately. Perhaps the words of the insane painter had struck a chord.

Dorak’s hesitation was a bit more confusing, but Raethe suspected it was an objection to keeping his company rather than to the task at hand. Dorak had been growing more noticeably contemptuous of his Russian cousin, and lately it was as if he was trying to burn a hole in Raethe’s skull with his eyes. In the end he conceded that it was Thorain’s will and begrudgingly offered his aid.

The matter was simple, find Vasilli and exterminate him. Apparently that would not be enough to quell the clan’s bloodlust (or Kal’s) so he issued a public challenge expecting Vasilli to meet him on the field of battle that night.

Raethe bit his tongue, knowing full well that if Vasilli intended to deal with Kal or the party directly, he would have done so. Raethe kept this to himself, this was a clan matter, and as such it was not his place to interfere until asked to do so. He would carry his hammer into battle for Kal’s adoptive family and when enough blood was shed here to satisfy his rage, he would follow Kal to Moskovia and settle the matter once and for all. It was no less than his friend had done for him, chasing myths into the shadowrealm, the capitol of Ruus should be easy by comparison.

Raethe took the time before the fight to secure a room, a hot meal, and a bath at the nearest inn. Not that he carried much in his pack, despite its bulk, but he was surprised to find some coin at the bottom. Kal always set some aside even though Raethe never cared to call for his share. The bath was relaxing, and gave the dwarf some much needed privacy to reflect on recent events. He concluded that if he was to be acting under the auspices of The All Father (if not wholly in his favor) it was time to look a bit less like a savage maniac.

After he was clean (which took some time and effort) Raethe sat in front of the mirror and carefully began to trim his hair and beard. In the end, he sat back and was happy with the overall effect. While he kept the twin-mohawks, they were nearly a foot shorter, allowing them to stand without the repugnant application of rendered animal fat. His beard was trim, aside from the long thick mustache which he carefully pulled into two long braids.

Satisfied that this would mark the first of many changes in his life going forward, Raethe sat down to eat. All the while his new companion watched him from the windowsill, pecking, scratching, and occasionally “singing” to itself. Raethe made sure to cut a better looking piece of his roast into small bits and leave it to the side for Munin.

Raethe felt rejuvenated as the time to gather the clan approached. He knew from Kal’s tales that Ashka’s clan was small, and would not have legions to throw at this threat, so it would be up to Kal and his Warbonded friend to make up the difference. It was strange to feel a surge of pride at the approaching conflict, and as he reached for his pack, the urge to set down the Stormhammer and wield his mighty waraxe took him. Raethe decided against it, now was not the time, but he could not resist the impulse to pull his cloak from the pack and once again fight as a proud dwarf.

Raethe descended the stairs to the common room, tossed his hide cuirass into the fire pit without so much as a second look, and took a seat in the back of the room.

Kal gave a brief introduction and speech, and they were off to settle some of Vasilli’s debt. The party and a few Hardforge warriors filed out of the inn, and Raethe followed, donning his cloak with a bit of a self-indulgent flourish.

The party gathered at an intersection in the merchant’s quarter, and waited for Vasilli to accept Kal’s challenge. There was something not quite right in the air, and soon one of Vasilli’s lieutenants showed himself out of the shadows. He and Kal exchanged some words, but diplomacy was pointless. The only trouble for them was that the whole scene cried ambush. And so the crossbow shots rained down from the rooftops.

Raethe broke for the closest building knowing that they were sitting ducks in the street. Kal chased down Vasilli’s envoy to exact some satisfaction for the blood of Aska’s cousins, and soon the fight was in full motion.

The battle did not last long, as the party each found ways to eliminate the assassins’ ground advantage. It was much the same as any battle, but for Raethe it was just another detour. Vasilli was not here, nor would he come. They would have to track him down and force him into daylight. These were just messengers sent to hopefully draw some more blood in Vasilli’s name, but more likely to bleed themselves so that their master would not. As a result, Raethe remained preoccupied with other things. Not that satisfying Kal’s honor in this blood-feud wasn’t important to him, but these whelps didn’t deserve his best, they did not deserve the Stormhammer, they did not deserve Beordin’s fire, and so he would not give over to his passion for this fight.

The party regrouped in the street and tended to their wounds. Raethe stood to the side of the street, looking off in the distance. Then he saw it, nearly two blocks away and perched atop a three-story building. Munin cocked his head and shot up into the sky and flew out of sight. It was strange, Raethe thought, that after such a short time he had become so attuned to the whereabouts of his new companion that he could spot him under these conditions, but it was comforting nonetheless.

As he walked from the site of the battle, he took note of how his cloak was not blood stained from the fight, or his wounds. This had been the case since his mother tailored it for him so many years before. No matter what hell he put it through, the pelt of the winter wolf always came away looking brand new, no matter the condition of its owner.

Raethe settled into his room alone, Munin perched on the sill, and took what sleep he could as they would depart for Moskovia in the morning.

The Plot Thickens
 

excerpt from the Memoirs of Dorak the Axe Bearer, Thane of Karak Belgrin

“9th of Harvestmont, 18,506 Anno Drannorae.”

A day like any other, we walked slowly towards Arkangyl, each buried in his thoughts. I still do not know what happened in Belrael, but my heart tells me I accomplished the task I was sent there for, whatever that might be.

Eventually we come to a stop for the evening. I settle at the campfire without a word. The presence of the slayer infuriates me. Didn’t he seek death with the Slayer King?!?

Kal takes Raethe aside, and they walk away for a private discussion. Our friend from Araby has little to say. I have another vision – the one about the jester. I don’t even pretend to understand, but I’m sure in time I will.

The next day we break camp and start walking again. Mid-day a rider from Arkangyl finds us and tells us of trouble with Kal’s clan. We speed up our journey and make for the city, though I find myself dragging my feet a little – not out of disrespect but to give Kal time. Eventually we’re back in the city. I walk through the streets somewhat tense, but such is the state of things. Perhaps soon I will part with my companions – our common journey appears to be over.

As I stand in the street dumbfounded by Khalid’s revelation that Raethe spoke with All Father, I have another vision – it is brief, very brief. I was talking to Khalid asking what had happened with Jakob the Slayer King, and he told me a tale that Jakob transformed into the avatar of Beordun and had words for Raethe. I want to think he’s making things up, or that it was an illusion… but then my heart tells me perhaps it wasn’t.

The rest of the day passes like a blur. Vasili would appear to take out his anger upon Kal’s clan, so he obtained permission from the city council to deal with it. By nighttime we’re deep in a scuffle with Vasili’s thugs, and within a few short moments they are dealt with. But only locally – Vasili’s still out there, and I’m afraid we’ll have to deal with him, or he will keep nibbling at our heels everywhere we go.

The Plot Thickens
JJMOSQUERA

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.