Tales from Forgotten Europa

Smooth Sailings: Voyage North
excerpt from the Memoirs of Dorak the Axe Bearer, Thane of Karak Belgrin

The following chronicles a part of one of the more famous quests of a mighty dwarf that once lived in Norska. Though he passed over a millenium ago, his legend lives on…

“21st of Buckmont, 18,506 Anno Drannorae.”

“Once again my feet lack the familiar feel of earth and stone. Once again my dreams dictate my direction, and I’m off with a group of strangers towards Russ – towards North. Once again the wind, sea, and sun dance upon my face, and my eyes fix to the lost city, to the fallen Holdfast, to the Eastern Mountains. It has now been twenty years since I first dreamt of these places… and I remember them like it was yesterday. My visions get stronger, and I can feel the tension in my bones. I hope, no, I know, that this is where I’m meant to be. They didn’t understand, but my fate has been decided the day I picked up the shield and armor – the day I met him.”

“We sail for a few days with favorable winds, or so the crew tells me. I know enough to stand out of their way, and I take this time to practice with my axe and soak in Thoraín’s blessings high in the sky. We have a brief skirmish with would-be pirates, but our captain fired his guns once or twice and scared them away. And like that we reach our first stop – a smaller town by the name of Hamelin. It is mostly a restocking port, though there is enough trade here to satisfy a common merchant. I take this opportunity to set my feet on the ground, and examine the workings of my Ruus cousins. Their craft is magnificent: swords, shields, axes, you name it – each done with a true master’s hand. I doubt these humans appreciate my race’s dedication & skill, but such is the way of the world. They have coins, and that’s enough ‘appreciation’ I guess.”

“The captain seems to have run into an old friend of his – a fellow pirate/privateer known as Captain Ramius. They banter for a bit, we have a pleasant supper with him, and they exchange stories. I took this opportunity to learn about my odd dwarfen companion – Raethe. Law of Cordiality had been satisfied, and now it was time for proper introductions. To my surprise, he refused to speak of his clan or origins. I don’t know much about his kind – the ‘savage’ dwarfs of Ruus so to speak, though I can’t imagine them being too different from our Norska barbarians. It is odd he hides his true self. It is… undwarfen. I could see anger flicker in his deformed eyes. I can see he’s been… touched. It does not shock me as it would others, for I have seen my share of it. I don’t know what to think of him. But he travels where I travel, as does the outlander, and the captain of our ship. So long as they stay out of my way, we’ll get along just fine. I’m a fairly easy going dwarf and it takes a lot to anger me, but nobody better get in the way of my quest, or they will suffer the same fate those goblins did in Karak Ild twenty years ago.”

“Next day we resume our journey and head towards Odessa, a large port and outpost for the Russ dwarfes. It is high summer, and the ships are now coming with dwarfen wares frequently. I can’t wait to see my cousins. I can’t wait to see the old world. It takes us five days, and again we have good winds, and no trouble on the water. On the fifth day we reach the city, and it is large, by human standards. Captain Deigo takes some unusual precautions here, as if expecting trouble, and if I’m not mistaken he might have even locked up his niece from venturing within. Not my business and I do not interfere with his affairs.”

“Again, the feel of earth & stone – old stone, brings a smile on my face. This time I head out wearing armor instead of tunic, though such precaution among cousin dwarfs may be excessive. I head straight for the gem cutter’s center, and soon enough I find it. My cousins do not seem to appreciate my presence; until they find out I’m selling gems, not buying. I take this opportunity to learn about the ‘fallen’ Karak. Many take offense to that, as they should by dwarfen custom, but I need to know, and though it pains me to ask, I eventually find a dwarf willing (and greedy) enough to learn all I need to learn. He tells me about a fallen Holdfast that apparently some madman is trying to reclaim. That is a very strange thing indeed. We trade, and having enough coin to conduct all the necessary affairs, I conclude my business.”

“I know Captain Diego doesn’t want us to take much time in the city, but I cannot skip this chance to visit the Temple of Thoraín – I know there’s one here, and sure enough, after asking a few dwarfs I find it in the center of town. I sit there for a few hours. I chose a perfect spot – right where the sun comes through the window and warms my face and hands. I sit there, loosing myself in the moment, paying homage and giving thanks to our gods. I dream there, fading in-and-out of consciousness, hearing cheering voices in the Halls of Thoraín, and seeing the smiling faces of ancient dwarfs. I do not know why they talk to me. I do not know what Thoraín has in store for me. But I look forward to it. I leave a gem on the altar and head out.”

“Eventually all dehydrated and sweaty I make my way back to the ship. The crew eyes me with suspicion, undoubtedly hearing the distinct sound of gold coming from the box I carry. But pirates as they are, they can clearly see my axe, and I doubt many would like to taste its business end. Eventually my other companions return from the city too. I presume they too took this opportunity to learn of our destination. I look forward to hearing what they have learnt, and sharing what I know. Maybe together we can piece together enough information to get me to where I need to go. And as the ship’s sails fill and the water begins to move, I fix my eyes North-East once again…”

Hot Days on the Docks
Fire, Sand and Date With Destiny; A New Adventure Begins

From the journal of Captain Kal Deigo

The day began like any other… an angry mob, a flurry of blows and not enough rum. Although there seems to be some extra since Raethe stopped drinking (Although his disposition hasn’t changed much). As we stepped into the local watering hole, The Crow’s Nest, I noticed that there seemed a bit more tension than usual for these parts. It seems that some of the local reavers had been seen nearby and the locals were getting nervous. (As usual, they had the unpleasant habit of raiding the town and plundering all the good stuff.) Just, after I slipped the bartender a piece of eight in exchange for a local legend about the Book of Amunra, I heard the inevitable sound of alarm bells ringing aloud, and then shortly after, carnage. I pulled out Agatha & Abagail and turned to see Raethe already out the door. Here we go again..

I know, I’ve written about Raethe before but I wanted to take moment to explain how disturbing the last change has been… his teeth. We were above deck one night and all of sudden I hear a sound like a cat being sweet talked by an Ork. The screaming went right through me… and when it subsided (and after I drank a baby’s weight in rum). I came down into the hold to see Raethe, his teeth looking like a tyger and his mouth pouring blood. I had to pull the men off the life boats and convince them he did it to himself (I said it was a “Dwarf Thing”), but I’m not too sure what’s going on, except that now he doesn’t drink. (And I’ve started keeping honey water in my other flask just to keep him happy in a pinch.). I’m worried for him.


We fight our way through this rabble of poor press-gang sods, killing those who need killing, scaring those who need scaring and sparing the rest. I actually felt kind of bad and let one make it into the drink. The problem is, Shallya’s Mercy (my blessed ship), was out in the harbor and I’ll be dammed if I let anyone else get to it. I hoped that Dast (my boswain) and Jackson (my first mate) kept the ship and Marlena safe. In the middle of the fray I saw something that seemed out of place, a ball of fire rolling around the streets (I’ve been here before and never seen it so it must be new…), as this thing is rolling around, I see a man simply directing it with his finger. Wizard. Crap. Then I see another oddity, a dwarf dressed in the most perfect IRON armor I’ve ever seen. Well, you guessed it, by the end of the fight these two come over to see who else… Raethe. My personal killing machine AND weirdness magnet.

The Wizard is Khalid Arib al Kashif (Gods bless you), seems nice enough to talk to, once the town guard finished kissing his ass. (All magic-folk are treated like kings… I’m sure Raethe and I killed more than he did, though, we’re just not as flashy… well Raethe isn’t) Apparently, Khalid is a not only a man of magic but of maps. He was also looking for a library, but he didn’t know where it was. As far as looks go, he’s a man of the sand. Ashen skin and swathed in cloth, he carried a few tomes and has air of dignity about him. As for the fire ball, he’s powerful alright and I haven’t met too many weavers but few are to be trusted, but there was something different about him. Apparently, he’s looking to go to Ruus and if he’s willing to beef up my maps, he’s more than welcome aboard the Mercy.

The dwarf warrior is Dorak. Who is the cheeriest Dwarf I’ve ever met and considering his nickname is “Grimface”. At first I was hoping this would rub off on Raethe, but after the little bastard tried to take my cabin as his room, I’ll make do with my surly fang-face. Well, I got a good look at his armor and it is something special. I think it’s one of the masterworks. Maybe he made it or maybe it’s an artifact, but there’s something there, I can feel it in my bones. I know a piece of art when I see one. He’s also looking for passage to Ruus but he’s got gems. He game me a perfect opal for a journey on the Mercy. Oh and apparently he’s looking for a dwarf hall. Something high and thin… It reeks of magic too, I bet. As for his look, the iron armor is 100% engraved and immaculate. He the biggest dwarf I’ve ever seem, just under 5ft.

So, this is my new motley crew. We’ll make passage to Ruus and I think they’ll be good to have around if my seafaring elven friends show up OR if any of the golden come looking for their sexton…

The Rains of Dan'Dannock
Friends reunited, and a path barred by madness and storm clouds

It is months after the survivors of the island have gone their own ways. The exiled prince has fallen in with pirates, and their captain travels upriver to play the merchant game, for the prince needs coin to fund his return to nobility. They meet, by chance, with another survivor, the changeling halfling, now a forester. Brought together by the summons of a merchant, August Seebeck, and charged to deliver timely cargo to a sleepy vale town in the heart of the Empire, in the glen of Dan’Dannock. For protection the merchant hires another bolt from the past, the doom-spoken barbarian, plucked from the ether, it seems. The gathering of pirates and past acquaintances draws the eyes of the mad one, the witch-hunter, and he too links his fate again to the group.

Together, they drive hard towards the vale, as rainclouds gather. The forest is strange and dark. They are beset by oddities, by animals run mad, touched by horror, but they make it through. They are met by Seebeck’s brother, the Reverend Jules, who offers them a new, important task (and hefty purse). There is something wrong in the forests of the Glen. They must cleanse the grounds where Seebeck will build his church.

A tempting offer for the barbarian, they all agree and immediately set out and find horror waiting. Sacrifices and madness, creatures from legend, creatures of corruption. The party wins through again, and the grounds are to be reclaimed. The rains themselves come to begin washing the grounds clean once more. They find a map of sorts. Mutilated cattle and smallfolk and a clear indication there will be more. And locations, many locations, picked out in what they hope is merely red ink.

The group splits and rejoins, each attempting to learn more in their own ways. And the rains continue unabated, soaking everything and everyone. Even Jules has no answers, as his simple task has uncovered something far more invasive and mature.

Clues lead the group to a ranch, bereft of life. There they find new horrors, more of the freakish beastmen, and a strange man in strange baroque armor. A desperate fight, close quarters and give-n-take, but the group wins through, a few new puzzle pieces in their possession. Over all the rains wax and wane, but the skies never clear.

They continue trekking through the spacious vale uncovering more and more signs of evil, of chaos overtaking the order of everything. The witch-hunter reports that Dan’Dannock itself is no longer safe, that angry mob rule now presides over sanity, and blood flows freely. Other witchunters have entered the area and seem hell-bent on purifying the only way they have been taught: fire.

Weeks of traveling, uncovering more foul fanes, more beasts and their handlers. The group spies what can only be a flying machine. And worse, the machine, a thing of dwarfish daydreams made real, has spied them. An encounter with another armored man, if man he be, and his compatriots, one stooped, hunched thing bearing a terrifying weapon of flame. The exiled prince scored a lucky hit on this bringer of death and it exploded in flames and gouts of smoke. These beings were transporting a wagon, another item of insanely detailed and baroque colors and designs. The prince was drawn to it, compelled nearly against his will to enter it and ransack it.

There is a sealed cask, filled with some mysterious oily black substance was an arrow. A gleaming white, rune-scribed arrow. With the rains turning into a downpour and the howls of more creatures echoing in the woods, the group gathered up what it could and fled. The captain and the witch-hunter, having sussed out the map and its patterns, have deduced where they must go to at last understand the events occurring here. Surely there must be a reason, which Reverend Jules agrees with, as he joined the party now as suddenly and as mysteriously as his family seems to do everything. He binds their accumulated wounds and grants them wards. He warns them that nature itself fights with them against this evil, that the rains are an attempt to cleanse, and that should the rains cease, it would mean the end of nature’s valiant effort to exist. With this news and the company of Jules, the group is truly no longer pestered by the things running mad in the forests themselves, animals gone berserk and tainted with foulness.

One last desperate race through days of rain and growing populations of beastmen and cultists and the group found itself approaching a great green, from which a tremendous clamor rose. Hordes of beastmen gathered there, along with a huge population of captured Glens-folk! The leaders of the town, merchant, militia, and small-folk alike, all pent up behind pickets surrounded by slavering beastfolk. And far to the North, at the edge of the greensward, a huge back gibbet-altar, with a tremendous beastman presiding over its constructions.

Plans were quickly laid and an ambush was launched. The barbarian, as ever, in the van, quickly challenging the host and gathering their attentions, as the others moved to support him or circumvent the mass entirely, their focus being the huge shadow with its back to the hangman’s fane. Against his own better judgment, the pirate captain charged shoulder to shoulder with the barbarian, as the forester and witch-hunter preyed from the shadows. Even with their matchless skills, they were too few against far, far too many.

Until the outlaw prince gave in to the voice in his mind and drew the white arrow.

Whenever he fired, another white shaft would somehow be close to hand, and wherever he fired, he slew. The horde reacted immediately, sensing that some power greater than them had arrived, and it fueled the barbarian onwards to further slaughter, for his foes grew fearful. But alas, even his prowess was not enough to slay them all. The others attempted to protect the outlaw as best they could, knowing his survival was their own, while the forester crept off to free the folk of the Glen. But the thing at the far side of the clearing knew this too, and strove to cease the hail of white arrows at its source.

It was this point that the captain, lost in the tumult made his move. He had sidled his way near to the hangman’s fane and strove to grapple and kill the beast priestling. Gruesome were the wounds he inflicted, and gruesome where the wounds he received, but his blood bought the group precious moments to cleave the ranks and close on the darkling pirest. As the pirate fell to the dirt, his life’s blood splattering against the edge of the altar stone, the priestling found itself staring down the flight of the final white arrow. The prince did not miss.

The forester had managed to hew through the beasts guarding the townsfolk and they quickly turned on their captors and the rout became a slaughter. Even Reverend Jules made good, as he was able to heal the barbarian and aid the pirate enough so that he WOULD indeed live to walk from the field of battle. The witch-hunter quickly assumed command of the folk and they worked diligently to slaughter all foes, and purify the very grounds with Sigmar’s flame. Their work would last long, long into the night, and into the weeks and months ahead, but they would do so in favorable weather.

When the hangman’s fane burned, the rains finally, at long last, ceased falling.

The Island
The boat went down, and they woke... somewhere

The initial meeting and adventure. Disimilar folk bound together by fate onto a ship sailing west to France. Home for some. Adventure for some. Death for some. A priest on a pilgrimage. A bounty hunter and his outlaw captive. A thief sentenced to hang. A young wizard running away from something. Two sullen dwarfs sentenced to conscript duty at Deau Vere. But the ship never berthed. Attacked by some mysterious forces, every soul onboard, even sworn enemies, united to fight for their very survival as the ship was torn to pieces beneath their feet.

They awoke, some 8-10 souls, the only members of the ship’s register left, on the sandy shingle of a deserted island. Wreckage and storm clouds the only company. They quickly realized they were not alone, though, as the sun set and things began to happen.

Each survivor struggled to survive on this bleak island, and each struggled also against their own minds, reliving the past, dwelling on the twists of fate, the bounds of love, the cruelty of despair. Each survivor crawled from the sea a marked man for one reason or another, and as they progressed inland, they began to realize that perhaps there was less random chance at play then any could guess at. Thieves were once princes, healers were once killers, and killers were once innocent.

Things progressed as the island was explored. Abandoned villages, freakish denizens, desperate battles all lay before the intrepid band of cast-offs. Voices from the immediate and long-forgotten pasts. Hordes of creatures, seemingly without end. And the wings of dark things filling the night air every evening. The way out was made clear at length. A ziggarat stands in a shallow valley on the island. Ancient and more than ancient. Peopled by ghosts and the foul creatures an old race devolved into. Gods moved on the island, toyed with it, watched the playthings struggle, and danced on their black altars. The ziggarat held the key, the escape, the exit.

Not all the survivors made it. Some fell so that others might go on. One rejected all revelations, all understandings, and persevered to the point of insanity. And one chose to stay. But after harrowing battles and frightening confrontations… some returned to the world, to Europa and all the rest. They lived to see tomorrow and to perhaps make sense of what they’ve learned and lived through. A pity that is not all that returned.


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