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Jamey Martin
Saturday, June 16th, 2012, 08:55 AM
Heya Folks!

A few months back a Germanic FB friend and I were discussing our youthful love of Dungeonsand Dragons, but bemoaning the lack of a really good Nordic style setting. As my love for the game has never abated with age, it was suggested that I try my hand at creating such a setting. And so the seedling of Northwind was born.

It is a pseudo-historical setting in that it takes place in the past of "our own" world, utilizing much of the legend, mythology, history, culture, etc. of our world up to a certain point/s of divergence/s.

Anyone interested in helping to detail a section of Northwind, and/or with knowledge of putting together a classy looking PDF shold feel free to get in touch with me.

Anyway ...

The first noteworthy point of divergence, Between Northwind and the REal World, was the LACK of the great cooling and wetting of the climate that effected NW Europe in the late Bronze Age. In actual history, this event had the effect of causing the collapse of southern Scandinavia's trade routes to Poland and the British Isles and subsequently forcing it's burgeoning populations to disperse into Eastern Europe and throughout modern day Germany. Instead, the abscence of this phenom. in Northwond enabled trade to solidify, broaden and diversify, which in turn enabled Northern populatons to densify much earlier.

By the year of my first campaign in the setting, the Gisiling Saga, 675 CE, towns of 1,000 people are fairly common in the North, while such major trade centers as Hedeby or Birka are between 15,000 to 20,000 strong. This great affluence, combined with some early aid from the dwarves that used to occupy the mountians of the North -- the dwarves of the Hercynian (Harz) Mountains taught the Celts the mystery of iron -- has transformed the North. Many large stone structures can be found in the North, all with a distinct Nordic style to them a la Skyrim or the Stave Churches of Norway. The trade carried on throughout the Baltic is very rich, and the Northern trade routes well nigh as extensive as those of the later Vikings.

Sweden and Denmark stand as unified kingdoms by 675 CE. Norway is ruled by a number of independent jarls, while the "Saxonlands" (Northern Germany) are ruled by 12 semi-independent lords bound together by "the Laws of the Saxon-Lords" and a Great Council that meets once every three years. While many Anglii remained in southern Jutland to help form the kingdom of Denmark, others settled the lands along Hadrian's Wall in Northern Britainnia and reign as sub-kings (under Britonic rule) there.

This all also aided pagan Celtic culture in maintaining itself. Aye, Britain, Gaul and Hispania did indeed all fall prey to Roman Imperialism, but in central and southern Germany a great Celtic confederation held out to eventually evolve into the broad forest kingdom of Hercynia. It was to their ancestors that the dwarves revealed the mysteries of iron.

As for Britain, Gaul and Hispania, well, that brings me to the other signficant divergence ... the destruction of the Roman Empire.

As of the end of the 3rd century CE, it no longer existed. It's cities lie in ruins. It's trade routes are broken down. And none are too keen about travelling in those parts; considering the continued abscence of the last people who thought that might be a good idea.

So, what happened?

The culture of the Empire eventually placed the ultimate virtue on power, which in time spurred the cultivation of the dark arts amongst the disempowered. This was largely made possible by demonic conjuration by largely ignorant folk at a time in magical developement where only a select few had any knowledge of necessary protective cirlces and banishment spells. The evils so released on the Empire resulted in ever increasing general exploitation and inhumanity amongst it's populations, and wide-spread demonic possession and fits of madness. This dynamic fed itself, snowballing, socio-culturally and politically, all leading to the Crisis of the Third Century. Beyond the historical discord of the age, a group of sorcerors, intent on gaining power enough to rule the world, sought to open the very gates to the Infernal Realms, located in old Judea. They succeeded, but were overwhelmed by the flood of evil that stormed forth. And soon the Empire joined them, ravaged by a motley horde of demons and madmen.

By the end of the 3rd century, what would become known in the North as the "Wild Horde" had ravaged Italy and began to spill over the Alps; raiding into Hercynia and surrounding lands. The Gallic Empire, Hercynia, and the various tribes that make up the Ingaevones (Nordic/Germanic peoples) all united to beat back the initial invasion. Hercynia and the Gallic Empire were still faced with smallscale raids every so often in the following years, and were thus forced to remain ever vigilant. As a result, Britannia, neglected and well nigh defenceless, fractured from the Empire to deal with it’s own Pictish problems. Some Ingaevonic tribes thence took to raiding Britannia, while others were invited to settle coastal areas of the "Saxon Shore" and (as noted above) the Hadrian’s Wall.

The Kingdom of Denmark emerged in Jutland as Hedeby became the center of trade in the Northlands. Likewise, the power of the Swedes continued to wax, while excess Ingaevonic populations begin to drift southward toward the northern slopes of the "Hercynian Mountains", aka the Harz Mountians.

As for the Infernal Gate, it was eventually sealed by a group of Indian holymen with the aid of the so-called Last Legion. There was only one survivor hat returned to tell of their success. He fell prey to an unclean spirit soon after.

Meanwhile, within the boundaries of the Old Empire, the numerous women raped by the demons of the Wild Horde died giving birth to the race of orcs. These orcii bred at an astounding rate.

Hence, in 350 CE, another Wild Horde poured out of Italy, this time made up predominatly of orcii, but still complimented by many fiends and led by the blackened demonlord that came to be called Wod amongst the Ingaevones, and Balor aongs the Celts. This time around clumsy ships were made by the orcii or human slaves and used to harass the islands and coastal regions of the Northlands.

The Hebrides were over-run by orcii, as were the Orkneys -- which take their name from the orcs! hehehe -- and not even the Ingaevonic lands went untouched. Hercynia was for a time overrun, with Wod building fortresses as far north as the Hercynian mountains in order to entrench his largely orcish forces. The power of Wod was broken in the North via a number of successive victories fought between 429 CE and 435 CE, that forced him out of Hercynia and back over the Alps. From there the orcish raids begin to peter out, becoming small and less frequent.

In 440 CE the largest muster the North had ever seen occurred, as men gathered from throughout the Gallic Empire, Hercynia, Britannia, Denmark, Sweden and the various petty Ingaevonic tribes and launched a counter raid into Italy. Battles were fought throughout the Boot, orcii and demons were hunted to their lairs and slaughtered. The blackened giant, Wod, was forced into single combat with the Ingaevonic hero, Hama, and slain.

Legend says that only Wod’s mortal form was destroyed and that he can still be heard leading his band of werewolves, fiends, and madmen in the fierce winds of the winter months.

Nevertheless, pockets of orcii survived in the higher reaches of the mountains of Western Europe, as well as in the aforementioned islands, and continue to be a periodic thorn in the side of Northerners. And legend says that some demons still lurk in the depths of the ruins of the old Empire, while others, the left-overs of the “great invasions“, still haunt the lonelier regions of the North itself.

History of the Saxonlands

During the first war against the Wild Horde in the NW from 276 to 280, Ingaevonic mercs were used heavily by the Kingdom of Hercynia and the Gallic Empire. These mercs returned to settle the lands down to the northern slopes of the Hercynian mountains. The characteristic seax (shortsword) that many carry as a side arm earned them the collective name Saxons; though they collectively acknowledge no common authority.

From 300 CE to 350 CE, the Saxons engaged in petty small-scale raids and skirmishes with each other, and surrounding peoples. Populations swelled, prosperity prevailed, and life was good.

From 350 to 427 the Wild Horde of the demon Wod advanced over the Alps ravaging Hercynia, and coming to dominate both Hercynia and the Saxonlands alike; the latter from the dark fortress atop the Brocken in the Hercynian Mountains.

Some of the Saxon-Lords bent knee to Wod in hopes of currying favour, while others adopted a more "rebellious" attitude resulting in a mass liquidation of Saxon nobility over the next decade. All goodly folk lived in fear under the tyranny of Wod and his lapdogs.

In 427 the temple of Freya in the old Ingaevonic homeland was sacked and the necklace that adorned the goddesses image born off by Wod. The hero Hama, said to be of the same stock as King Offa of Anglia, who’s might kept Wod out of Jutland, arose in response to this. He sowed the seeds of rebellion amongst the Saxons, cultivated alliances with the Slavs to the east, and by early 429 drove Wod’s forces out of the Darkhold. They fled with the Brisingamen into Hercynia.

By the end of 429 Hama followed, harrying the forces of Wod with the support, not only of his own Saxon-Slav alliance, but also that of many a Hercynian. By 435, the power of the Horde was broken in Hercynia, and both Wod and what remained of his Horde fled back across the Alps.

By the end of 440 Hama followed as a part of the largest army ever gathered in the Northlands; made up of Ingaevones and Saxons, Hercynians, Brits and Gallics. While costs were great, Italy was ravaged and the power base of the Horde decimated. Hama faced Wod in the city of Rome. His sword Mimming was shattered in the conflict, but he neverthless won the duel with his seax, driving it through Wod's eye, and carrying the Brisingamen back North.

Returning to the North, Hama settled in the great fortification he had the dwarves build at what became known as Hamberg. By the time of his death in 466 CE his twelve sons were established as the 12 Saxon-Lords, and they were the progenitors of all the 12 noble houses, ruling the 12 Saxon tribes, today. As a result of his devotion “to the Saxons”, and/or the usefulness of the seax in his battle with Wod, Hama is sometimes remembered as “Saxnote” or “Companion of the Seax/Saxons”.

No sooner had Hama passed away then his offspring began to fall into disputes; with their descendents increasingly holding to their own counsels and courts, and with one faction constantly at “war” with another.

In 535 CE Hercynia, tired of the border raids being carried out by the Saxons, marched on Saxony; dealing successive defeats to its bickering lords over the course of the year. They were rallied however by the Saxon-Lord, Irmin, over the following year. He was proclaimed King of the Saxons -- a title only ever afforded to Hama, and even then only posthumously -- and the Hercynians were driven out. On the very eve of his coronation however it was discovered that Irmin’s luck came via the conjuration of demons (some say Wod himself), and he was thus hung instead by the very council, ie the Saxon Council, he had established. While all still feared Wod enough to go along with this, some were not lost to the potential of slander by rivals.

The Saxon Council has met once every 3 years ever since … and while it has never enabled the Saxons to act as a unified kingdom, it has kept them in touch, resulted in many joint ventures between various collections of the 12 lords, and served as a formal venue for lords to resolve issues and disputes and bring end to feuds between nobles, all in view of their peers.

And so the Saxonlands have remained for the past hundred years.

There is more to come. Thoughts?

Zombiehunter
Saturday, June 16th, 2012, 06:01 PM
I haven´t played D&D for ages and to be true the last p&p rpg were endtime rpg made from the GURPS Universe.

But it sounds interesting that they now "invented" a saxonstyle campaign for D&D.

svartleby
Sunday, June 17th, 2012, 01:26 AM
I've got to say I love RPG's and have often considered creating a Germanic inspired campaign setting, but, and I suspect this is because I'm heathen, I couldn't bring myself to play with the truth of our ancestors and gods.

Something about it just didn't seem to sit right with me, and for that reason, even though its clear you guys put a lot of time into this setting, I personally wouldn't really want to play it. The closest I could get is playing Skyrim or any other game that while it might throw around some drinking horns and mead halls doesn't actually involve any real lore or history.

I doubt that would stop many others though, the setting seems to be quite well fleshed out.

Jamey Martin
Thursday, June 21st, 2012, 08:34 PM
One of my purposes in developing Northwind wasn't simply in answer to a desire expressed by some of my fellow Germanic heathens in having a Germanic setting to play in, but also to have a setting of my own to write stories. I mean, why waste any time writing stories in someone's elses setting, right? That simply complicates things when it gets right down to it.

While the broad brush strokes of setting creation are fairly easy, there is only one good way I know of to develope the fine details that actually brings such a setting to life. And that is to play in the setting and build it from a specific locale on outward.

The first camapign that I've run in this setting, still young and ongoing, is the Gisiling Saga, taking place in the Saxonlands as you might imagine. And I'd like to share the evolving story thus far ... it's more of a synopsis format at present, with more short and sweet and less story-telling art, but maybe one day I'll flesh it out into real story form, depending of course on how it goes ...

THE GISILING SAGA

Chapter #1

Ten men in colourful tunics, cloaks and breeches made their way southward into the low-lying, forest covered mountains that stretched across the southern horizon. Most of the men were fair of hair and complexion, and on the young side, but already well into sprouting the beards that would mark them as men. Most also bore the typcial Saxon arms of spear and round shield, with their trademark shortsword, called a seax, sheathed on their belts. Two of these men rode on horseback, while the others made their way on foot; one with a trio of hardworking Rottweilers on leash.

The men on horseback, along with the dog-handler, were clearly the veterans amongst the otherwise youthful troop. The first on horseback carried some 45 winters. He was of average size, but strong of build, and his long but wellgroomed brown hair was streaked with iron-grey. He wore both hair and beard braided in the ancient style of the North Danes. His name was Helmut, second cousin to Lord Albrecht of Gisilberg and amongst the foremost of the warriors of the Gislar.

The other man on horseback, Otto by name, carried as many winters as Helmut, but his red mane had long since balded on his crown, while his bristly redbeard was welltrimmed. Otto stood nearly a head taller than most men, and was of a great, robust, but not altogether unagile build. His line was well known for producing men of exceptional size and strength, and opinion amongst the folk ran from a belief that they must have trollblood in them to they must be the descendents of the legendary Swedish warrior-priest Red Donar. His line had served the Gisilings, the rulers of Gisilberg, for generations now. And they had done so with such great honour and distinction that they could boast a weak relation to the Gisilings through the female line. Not that Otto or his kindred were given to boasting of pedigrees or past honours, or had their mind set on anything other than the task life had laid immediately before them. Unlike most of his fellows here, Otto himself was armed with a shield and great axe instead of the usual spear.

The final veteran was Erhard, who carried as many winters as either Helmut or Otto, but was of a tall and lean, but not unmuscular build. His dirty blonde hair and beard was more ruggedly kept than his fellows, and had mostly given way to grey. He bore the typical arms of the Saxons, but while a compotent warrior, Erhard was noted for his service as hunter, tracker, and pack-handler to the Gisilings.

Amongst the half-dozen or so young men that accompanied the veterans there was Harek, the son of Helmut; a lad of some 18 winters and all but a younger, less battle-scarred version of his father. The same could be said of Otto's son, Hauk, who, even at 16 winters, was already beginning to outstrip the height and breadth of most full grown men. His hair and beard were likewise a bright red, but young Hauk lacked his father's paunch and was much more heroic of build and graceful of movement. Sheathed at the youths hip, opposite his seax, was the pattern-welded sword that had been left to him by his grandfather.

Of other Gisilings there was also Edgar, son of the High-Priest Ermund and nephew of Lord Albrecht. Edgar carried some 19 winters, made a point of keeping well-shaven and was well-known for prefering his own company to that of others. While his social status and otherwise friendly disposition made him less of a pariah amongst his peers than one might imagine, his willful beardlessness often made him the butt of "friendly humour" amongst his peers. Unbeknowst to most, Edgar was also a dabbler in rune wizardry. While literacy in runic script was common amongst the ruling houses of the various Ingaevonic tribes -- many of whom had taken to authoring and compiling veritable libraries of runic scrolls on such topics as poetry, history and legend, philosophy, etc. -- practice of the deeper, more magical side of the script was, as with any form of "sorcery" that was not clearly divine/priestly in nature, regarded with great apprehension and suspicion by the folk of the North.

Forsooth, it was told in the most ancient of myths that the runes were fathered by "the giant Wod". But the legends did go on to say how the god Mannus learned the runes from Wod during a short period as the demonlord's prisoner in the earliest days of Creation. Mannus reshaped the runes into a higher form of 24 staves of power before using their might to escape captivity and bind Wod in the underworld. He went on to share the runes with his Ingaevonic children. And of course, unlike the "sorcery" of the witch, or even the priestly wonder-worker, either of which hinged on the proper entreatment of gods, demons or spirits, runic wizardry perscribed a path of self-empowerment and direct personal manipulations of the fundamental forces of Creation. But such was the fear born of Wod's earthly reign of tyranny some 200 years ago that any overtly magical use of the runes was held in suscpicion.

Fortuantely for Edgar, his father, and those like them, the general toleration of the runic script as a form of writing often enabled them to hide their "wizard marks" in plain sight.

As for the other youths, they were made up of the churlish friends of the Gisiling lads; unremarkable Saxons tending toward fair hair and complexion, of average height and builds, dressed in the style and baring the arms of their folk. Their names were Elmer, Dirk, Karl, and Falco.

And so it was the year 675 by the Christian Reckoning of the Gauls, and another spring had fallen upon the lands of the Gislar; as those Saxons who customarily attended the Thing (court) established by the Gisilings in generations passed had come to be called. The Blessing of Austro, radiant goddess of vitality and renewal was a month gone, and the men of Gisilberg had been preparing to set out on their regular springtide trading expedition to mighty Hamberg in the north. As the day of departure grew nigh however, Lord Albrecht received word that his mining encampment of Glitterstead, itself less than a full days journey due south into the heavily forested Hercynian Mountains, had suffered a viscious raid that had left many wounded and a number dead. As a result, Helmut, Otto, and Erhard were charged with the task of tracking these raiders and bringing an end to the threat they posed.

And so it was that the veterans gathered the lads and set off first to Glitterstead. Here they found that a number of the small collection of buildings that made up the mining encampment showed signs of fire damage. A trio of graves marked by shovels or picks sat at the outskirts of camp while a like number of men in shoddy tunic and breaches and animal skins hung from a nearby tree. Clearly the raiders had been a gang of outlaws, the likes of which would indeed congragate into gangs from time to time and lair in lonely, haunted, and out of the way regions -- regions not unlike the Hercynian Mountains -- from which they'd harry the lands of good folk.

As for the Hercynian Mountains, they were a range of low-lying, forest covered mountains that marked the southern border of the Saxonlands and separated them from the Celtic kingdom of Hercynia to the south. Neither Celt nor Ingaevone however had ever inhabitted the range in any great numbers. In the eldest of times, they were said to be the home of the race of dwarves, who taught the Celts the secrets of iron. The dwarven populations were however hit hard by the first Wild Horde that poured over the Northlands from the south, and even harder still when the second Horde, led by the demonlord Wod himself, entrenched their forces in the mountain range. During Wod's reign of tyranny, the dwarves were nearly driven to extinction, but it was not until the decade of feuding between the dwarves and the men of both Hercynia and the Saxonlands that the dwarves at last disappeared from the world of men altogether. Some say the dwarves, formerly the fastest of friends with men, who had taught them the secrets of iron and forged blades capable of turning back the demon hordes, had simply grown tired of fighting the lords and kings who would monopolize their dwarven arts, and so retired back into the subterranean depths from whence they had originally sprung. Others say the agents of Wod had arose from deep within the those same depths to slaughter the dwarves within their unassailable mountain halls during their winter slumbers.

And so the mountain range remained largely a no-mans land unto this day, with neither Hercynian nor Saxon straying too far up it's slopes or into it's valleys. While the great orc hunts of old have not been held for a generation now, some claim that dens of orcii are still breeding in the depths of the range, while numerous tales from a number of different localities tell of the demons and ghosts that haunt the lonely ruins of mountains. Indeed, every now and then a hunter does venture into its deeper reaches never to be heard from again.

Now, as luck would have it, Erhard's dogs had picked up the spore of the raiders the following morning. And the trail would lead them deeper into the Hercynian Mountains.


For an entire day the band tracked the spore; at times having to rely solely on the noses of the dogs, while at others finding clear and recent signs of human passage. Their journey was thus made quick, but with day's end they set up camp and established watches for the night. All went well until the third and final watch, when ghostly lights were seen dancing some hundred or so feet off in the woods. The rest of the band was quickly awakened and talk of "Wod lights" and the "spirits of the evil dead" quickly set the nape hairs of the gathered Saxons aprickle, when suddenly the sound of a great roar, as though from some enormous beast, followed by a violent thrashing of the underbrush, erupted some 30 or 40 feet off to their right. All turned, raising shield and leveling spear at whatever horror might be rushing upon them, but after an eternal moment nothing but silence and stillness reigned. And as for the ghostly lights, which Edgar himself had remained attentive of, these simply fizzled from view.

While Helmut ordered all to remain vigilant against whatever might still be lurking in the darkness, it soon became apparent that nothing was. Not anymore. The tension had left the air. But it was then that Falco first noticed that Karl was no longer amongst them. Harek, who had been standing watch claimed that Karl had indeed been present when the lights first appeared, as he had personally woken him up. And yet, there was no trace of the strong, athletic young man. Erhard looked for tracks but could find nothing out of the ordinary. He set the dogs on Karl's scent, but they only began to track him back in the direction of Glitterstead. He was simply gone ... vanished into thin air as it were.

As the group began to discuss what might have befallen Karl, they suddenly heard a wimpering cry in the far off distance. It was the voice of Karl, crying out for help. And it continued to do so again and again every few minutes. The lads were soon moved to take up their spears and head out in search of their friend, but were reigned in by Helmut, who warned them that, if that voice was indeed even Karl's, he was likely being used as bait. And so it was that the lads stood down, enduring the periodic, agonized cries for help from their friend, until the first hint of day appeared in the eastern sky. If legend held true, the power of Sunne, the golden goddess of the sun, would banish any evil that might be afoot here and speed their search for their friend.

And so they broke camp and began making their way southeast, in the direction they believed the cries had come from. And yet it was soon noticed that, with the breaking of dawn, Karl's cries ceased. Thence, an uncharacteristically frightened Falco argued that Karl was dead, and that their priority was the raiders. They should return to their camp of last night and pick up the raider trail from there. While most had no desire to abandon Karl until they at least learned his fate, Helmut ultimately decided that Falco was right. He did however allow Otto, Hauk, Harek, and Edgar to press on in search of Karl, while he and the others doubled back and got back on the trail of the raiders.

It was around noon hour when Otto and the lads at last burst into a clearing. Therein stood nearly a dozen shaggy looking men in animal skins and tattered clothes ... undoubtedly men ranked amongst the raiders they sought. They stood about the clearing looking at the man bound high up the trunk of a prominent tree, his chest literally ripped asunder and his insides empty of organs.

It was the body of Karl.

After a brief moment of shock on both sides, the Gisilings launched an angry attack on the gathered raiders. And while outnumbered two to one, they eventually slaughtered them to a man. All save for the man Edgar had grounded and held at spear point. As they questioned this man, they heard the approach of dogs, and were soon joined by Helmut and the others, who, for reasons now evident, had picked up the raider spore only to be led back in this direction.

Their raider captive was a Hercynian by birth, though many more Saxons, and even a Slav, had been found amongst the nine dead. He was wild-eyed, at one moment laughing, the next sobbing and crying, like a madman, but was questioned anyway regarding the raid on Glitterstead. He confirmed that his fellows had taken part in that raid. He was then questioned on Karl, but denied that he or his fellows had anything to do with the lad's terrible fate. He freely added that they were themselves fleeing from their base, perhaps a half days travel further south and east of here, because some great evil had awoken over the last night and reaped a great slaughter of his fellows.

At this, Edgar recalled a dream he had over the winter months ... of a ruin of blackstone set high in the Hercynian Mountains, and of how it seemed his spirit soared from the heights above the ruin and then sped downward, through it's upper reaches and then on into its pitch black depths. There, shrouded in the darkness of it's nether regions, a fire suddenly flared up on the opposite side of the great basement he was in, and a hissing laugh caused the Gisiling to awaken in a cold sweat.

Edgar questioned the mad raider, asking him if he and his had laired in a ruin of blackstone? But the madman merely giggled maniacly, saying that since the Gislar were most certainly going to lead him to his own death, he would be more than happy to lead them to their former lair and thus, to their own deaths.

Falco again spoke, saying that the raiders were dead, their duty fulfilled, and that now their task was to return the body of Karl to his kinsfolk back in Gisilberg. Most agreed, but Hauk neverthless mentioned that the madman could be lying, and that they should venture to the lair to see for themselves. And so again, Helmut divided the band in two; Otto, Hauk, Edgar and Harek would follow the madman to the former lair of his wolfhead companions, mindful of course of the potential for praeternatural evil and/or human betrayal, while Helmut and the others carried Karl's body back to Gisilberg.

And so it went, with Otto and the lads pushing ever deeper into the forests of the Hercynian Mountains, until after a long and hard afternoons hike they at last spotted the jutting crag the madman had spoken of. Surviving the night, the mad Hercynian led the lot of them up a barely discernable path to a deep fissure in the crag where the rock seemed to level out and smooth ... where they soon found stairs carved out of the surrounding rock ... all eventually leading up to a large set of double doors made of worked stone and standing slightly ajar. A trio of raider corpses lined the pathway leading up to doors, one of which had his face torn off, while two of the others had their chest cavities torn open and their insides scraped, or eaten, clean.

The madman became fearful as he again beheld the doom of his former companions, saying that he was now ready to meet his doom at their hands, but Hauk was moved to instead free him from his bonds. He gave the mad Hercynian a spear and told him to be on his way never to return to the lands of the Gislar. He and the others then busied themselves with the fashioning of some crude torches. They would enter this place -- which they gathered to be one of the lost holds of the dwarves -- and take a better look around before at last returning to Gisilberg with their news.

Jamey Martin
Monday, June 25th, 2012, 07:25 PM
Chapter 2

And so Otto, Hauk, Harek and Edgar ventured through the great stone doors that formed the entrance to the old dwarven hold. They quickly found themselves within a darkness that had never seen the light of day. The vastness of the entrance hall could be sensed well beyond the light cast by their makeshift torches, and it's smooth, levelled floor carried on a mere twenty feet before dropping away into a deep chasm that cut across the room some forty feet from wall to wall. The other side sat well beyond the torchlight, but was presumably joined to this side by an old, shoddy looking 3 rope bridge; which actually entwined three ropes to walk upon, while another two ropes acted as rails and small lengths periodically linked the railing ropes to the walk rope for stability.

Hauk stepped up to the edge and hurled his torch across the chasm. While it fell short of the otherside -- to disappear down the chasm some 100 or so feet below -- it neverthless did manage to briefly illuminated it. It stood some 40 feet off.

Harek remarked how the folk of Glitterstead said some 30 to 40 woflheads had made up the raiding, party, but between those hanged back at Glitterstead, those they themselves slew yesterday, and those they had found on the path leading up to the entry to this hold, they had found less than 20 so far. Where was the "great slaughter" their former wolfhead captive had gibbered of? Otto replied that they were no doubt, further on beyond the chasm, as few signs of any encampment were to be seen thus far. Of course, it might be a dangerous matter for men the size of either Otto or Hauk to set foot upon the aged rope bridge. It might not hold their greater weight.

Edgar on the otherhand was of a more regular size. And noted for his grace and athleticism as well. He was quite confident in his own ability to cross the bridge, and less spooked than the others of the "strange occurrences" they had experienced of late. And of course, perhaps their prisoner had indeed lied to them. They could not return to Gisilberg without being sure that all of the wolfheads were dead. And so, torch in hand, Edgar braved the sketchy bridge. And while his progress was shakey and required care, he eventually arrived safely at the otherside.

The Gisiling quickly noted that a great scattering of stones and boulders of various sizes sat scattered across the 30 foot swath of ground that led up to another great set of stone doors, carved with the mastery and imagery of the dwarvenfolk. Approaching the doors, the young runemaster was surprised to find the signs of witchcraft, of ritual magic, at the base fo the doors; a headless rooster hung upside down from the door, burnt remains of what was likely a small pouch of herbs, and a number of strange, complex hex-signs drawn in blood. Edgar knew well the secret meanings of runes, and what he beheld here was either complete gibberish, or witchcraft the likes of which was known ... only in legend. It was a powerful incantation that Edgar had only just begun to guess, if scarcely believe, was aimed at the creation of the dreaded druagar, the walking dead, when the bloody torso of an outlaw's corpse -- apparently torn in two by something -- came crawling out from behind a nearby boulder. Further sounds of laboured movement quickly brought Edgar's attention to yet another mangled outlaw; this one rising slowly up off the ground from behind another large boulder.

Meanwhile, cries of alarm and warshouts went up form the other side of the chasm.

Edgar backed toward the chasm as the recently slain corpses lumbered and crawled ever closer too him. He briefly considered drawing the seax Harek had lent him prior to crossing and having at the unholy fiends, but quickly resolved to instead drop his torch and make his way with all due haste across the clumsy rope bridge. And so it was, with Edgar nearly falling to his doom about midway across. As he pulled himself back up, the Gisiling looked back to see the walking corpse that pursued him step heedlessly off the of the edge of the chasm and plunge to it's unseen depths. The crawler however managed to take hold of one of the ropes of the bridge and slowly began to shimmy it's way across.

In the meantime, Otto, Hauk and Harek found themselves assailed by the outlaw corpses they'd found on the path leading up to the dwarven hold. Otto opened with a viscious axe swing that sunk through the corpse's collar bone and clove on into it's breastplate; kicking the fiend off of his axe once done. And while it fell, it took but a moment for it too slowly begin to get back to it's feet. All three warriors were taken aback by this, and both Otto and Hauk suffered many bites in the ensuing battle. But in the end, the Gisilings stood victorious over their undead assailants, while Edgar easily finished off his pursuant when it eventually reached the otherside itself.

When asked what he had found over there, Edgar mentioned first the doors, but then, with some hesitation and disbelief, added the evidence of witchcraft. Powerful witchcraft.

The warriors spent the remainder of the day double-timing it back to the lands of the Gislar. And they remained very much on edge as they slept and stood guard out in the wilds, under the canopy of the trees that night. While their moods were not brightened by the fog that greated them the following morning, they nevertheless made it to Glitterstead by late afternoon of the following day. While they had initially planned on staying here for the night, that changed soonafter Harek was taken aback while relating the tale of their findings to the mining folk over supper that eve. His own words being, " ... and so the very band of outlaws that had struck at Glitterstead did themselves fall victim to some dark witchcraft ...".

Thence, barely had they finished their meal when Harek pressed his fellows to man-up for the short remainder of the journey that would carry them home to Gisilberg. And as they walked along the dirt road that would carry them home, the spring sun beginning to set in the West, Harek shared his suspicions with his fellows; that, maybe, this witch who had plied her craft at the old dwarven hold, perhaps she was a kinsmen of one of the slain miners? Or one of the miners a warlock? Hauk protested that the evil that slew the outlaws also slew Karl, who had done no wrong, but Edgar noted that witches deal with demons and other beastial spirits, which, when poorly leashed and left to themselves, care not about the laws or morality of men; including the one's who summoned them.

And so the 4 continued on into the darkness of early evening, at last making their way down from the mountians and back to Gisilberg.

Gisilberg proper was an impressive fortification by Northern standards, occupying a craggy hill that jutted some 40' out of the surrounding plain and surrounded by a stone wall with defensive towers. Within stood an impressive hybrid of Ingaevonic wood-work architecture and dwarven stonework. The town of Gisilberg had grown up at the foot of its namesake, and was home to some 250 households.

Otto immediately made his way up to Gisilberg castle to share their findings and suspicions with Lord Albrecht, while the remaining youths, spurred on by Edgar, sought to learn the fate of Karl's body; as Edgar feared that Karl's corpse might also be subject to this witchery. They soon learned from Karl's kinsfolk that his body presently rested in one of the "death huts" found near the town's graveyard, and would be buried on the morrow. Despite the late hour, the trio continued out to the death hut. Only Edgar entered, and he was relieved to find Karl's body at rest therein.

The following day found Lord Albrecht holding counsel with many of his chosen advisors. Not only was there this news of witchery to be considered, but word had also come in just this morning that the Lord's (trade) caravan that headed north for Hamsberg had suffered a raid. This had undoubtedly come at the hands of the folk of neighbouring Drakensberg, as small seasonal raiding and counter-raiding had become the norm between the two tribes over the past several years. But, while such raids were generally tolerated by the Lords of Saxony, and indeed looked on as oppurtunity for younger men to prove their battle prowess amongst the folk, to raid a caravan travelling under a Saxon Lord's banner ... that could potentially mean civil war.

As for Edgar, he lost little time in seeking out his father and sharing with him his concerns about Karl's corpse. His father told him of the age old practices of burying one the folk feared might walk after death, and Edgar subsequently shared this knowledge with Karl's kinsfolk. They asked Edgar to oversee the burial. And so went the day.

But by days end, Lord Albrecht had at last come to a decision on how this matter of the Drakensberg, witchcraft and old dwarven ruins would be pursued ...

Thusnelda
Monday, June 25th, 2012, 09:45 PM
Very interesting so far! :thumbup Keep up the good work. I´ll read the latest entry later when I have more time but you and your friend got talent.

I used to play some D&D games on PC when I was younger, like "Neverwinter Nights" or "Baldurs Gate". I stopped playing now, though.

Wulfaz
Friday, June 29th, 2012, 06:51 PM
I personally support the germanic influenced games like as the Age of Mythology, Rome Total War which I posted somewhere. This is quite useful for the children and teenager whos want playe something and they can learn history and culture under they kill everybody. However the RPG is one of the greatest brain cancer of the world. Many years ago I played with the WoW for one month. I was a tall, blond, blue-eyed "viking" warrior and I just enjoy the mythical land what were similar to the early Europe (minus the Orcs, etc...), side by side I met only just 7-8 times with my tall, blond, blue-eyed IRL ex under this month. It was a drug or similar. Fortunately I found it boring and I could "return" to the IRL. Probably an alone walk in the forest can give back that Iron Age Europe feeling (or the reenactment absolutely better but I don't cosplay...), and the life is full of exciting "battles", but without blood.

Jamey Martin
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012, 08:37 AM
CHAPTER #3

And so it was that Lord Albrecht of Gisilberg issued the call to muster and sent forth a declaration of war to Lord Baeldric of Drakensberg. This had been no idle border raid such as was common amongst all of the Ingaevonic tribes; a sport of sorts. Rather, the caravan raided by the folk of Drakensberg was bountiful and carried with it no small amount of gold taken over the winter from the mines at Glitterstead. It's loss would be felt by all of the Gislar. And while this act did serve as a breach of the common laws that goverened the lords of the Saxonlands, and so could be dealt with at the great Saxon Council held once every 3 years, the counsel was held only a single summer ago. And so Lord Albrecht resolved that he and the Gislar would meet Lord Baeldric and his force in a weeks time on the battlefield hallowed by the customs and combats of generations passed. There Lord Baeldric would either recompense for this transgression, or a tribute would be wrenched from him and his by force of arms.

As for the matter of witchcraft; the Lord of Gisilberg spoke with Edgar under secret counsel about this. He charged the lad, his nephew, with the task of investigating this matter himself, but warned him to guard his tongue as he conducted his investigation so as to spook neither the folk of Glitterstead nor the potential witch. He further advised the lad to speak first with the camp's headman, Thurstan. He would know the regular work crews that came up to the mines from Gisilberg and the surrounding lands of the Gislar. And he would know of others in the general area that might also be of interest.

Edgar spent the remainder of the day in the beer-hall gathering up what support he could from amongst his friends and kinsfolk. Most however were eager about the looming war on the onehand, and none too keen on dealing with witchery on the other. Nevertheless, by the time the night was through Edgar had won the pledge of Harek, Falco, and Dirk.

That night Edgar had a wyrdling dream of his forthcoming journey up to Glitterstead. He had been given to such prophetic dreaming since a child, though it had always regarded matters of relatively small importance. But as a result, he knew even as he and his companions set out for Glitterstead on that drizzly spring morning that Thurstan would tell them of a hunter named Garmund, who had some strange stories to tell of late, and of a woman named Helga, who lived alone in the lands further out beyond the encampment. And so it was, with the walk up to Glitterstead and the meeting with Thurstan unfolding even as Edgar had dreamt it.

Edgar asked Harek to lead Dirk and Falco out to Garmund's hold, itself some distance west of Glitterstead, and sound out the old hunter. For his own part, Edgar went forth alone to talk to this Helga. He knew from his dream that she was at once innocent of any witchcraft, quite learned in herbal lore, and quite young and beautiful. And so she was. They spoke for well over an hour just outside the door to her humble dwelling. As with his dream, she offered him no hospitality or shelter from the rain, but was not otherwise unkind. And by the end of their conversaton, with skies clearing overhead, Helga said that she hoped Edgar would return on the morrow as she had quite enjoyed their conversation.

Meeting up with the others back at the small beer hall at Glitterstead, Harek related that they had spoken with this Garmund, and that he spoke of some "very strange" carcasses he'd seen while out hunting late last year and early this year, in the valleys due south of here ... torn up like he'd never seen before. But otherwise left untouched by scavengers. For his own part, the old hunter believed that a troll had moved into the region, but he would lead them to where he'd seen the last carcass tomorrow, and if it was still there, they would see if it in anywise resembled Karl's corpse.

Edgar related in turn that Helga didn't appear to be a witch, that her charms were little more than herbal and superstitious folk magic, but that he would return to her abode tomorrow for a closer look. Dirk joked that this Helga's "charms" possibly went beyond those Edgar had willingfully mentioned.

And so it was that the following morning both parties went their separate ways once again. Edgar found Helga much more "cleaned up" than he had yesterday. She was no more than 25 winters herself, and as Edgar learned throughout the day, she was formerly a thrall from the Northlands, bought by one of the Gislar with the intent on making her his wife, but unaccepted by his kinsfolk. He built her this "cottage" here, but then died 2 seasons back in a mining accident. She had since survived by selling her herbs in Gisilberg, and at times, she admitted with shame, providing "company" to the odd miner from Glitterstead.

This did not discourage Edgar, who grew fonder and fonder of Helga, and she for him, as the day went on and turned into night. But they had only just finished making love that evening, and were laying in each others caressing embrace, when the shouts of men arose from outside. Torchlight could be seen flickering through the shutters on the small shacks window. A man called out for "the Gisiling" to bring the witch out, fpllowed by "aye!" from a number of other manly throats.

Edgar jumped up and donned no more than his cloak before grabbing his spear and opening the door. He assured the gathered men, perhaps just over a dozen of them, that he had been sent by Lord Albrecht himself to investigate this matter and that there was no witchcraft to be found here. To which one of the crowd responded that it was Edgar himself that came to Glitterstead looking for witchcraft, and that now the lad sat bewitched ... undoubtedly locked in the hags limbs no small time ago and now enthralled to her and her evil. Again, the mob demanded that Helga be brought forth, adding that one of the miners had been found dead with no sign of cause earlier this day. And when Edgar again refused them, three of them forced their way in, took control of Edgar and dragged him outside. And as they exited, two others went in, put a sack over Helga's head -- to keep her from speaking her spells -- and dragged her outside as well.

The men simply restrained Edgar, not altogether unmindful of his status as a Gisiling, but as for Helga, they strapped her to the trunk of an old dead tree that stood nearby and began to douse her in oil. Edgar was frantic at his lovers impending fate, but he could not struggle free from the men that held him down, and the others went on seemingly oblivious to his threats of Gisiling vengeance. Finally, Edgar at last demanded the matter be settled by single combat and accused them all of cowardice if they did not accept his terms.

At this, the men sobred. His terms were agreed upon. The duel would be fought until death or quarter, but Edgar would face the biggest of the gathered miners; a bald and beardless Hercynian who neverthless sported a great moustache and stood a paunchy 6' 2". The duel was swift and ended with Edgar on the ground and the Hercynian's spear levelled at his throat. When he failed to yield, the Hercynian twirled his spear about and struck the lad unconscious with it's butt end.

The Gisiling was wakened moments later to the horrific shreiks of Helga as her body was engulfed and slowly devoured by flames. Edgar tried to stand on shakey legs as the rest of the men stumbled backwards, blank of expression as though in shock over the horror of the scene. At last Edgar gained his feet and stumbled over to Helga's burning form, but he could do nothing. Nothing but wait for her shrieks to dwindle into agonized whimpers and then to finally fall silent altogether. The flames themselves did not last long after, leaving Helga's charred and smouldering corpse hanging from the tree trunk.

Berlichingen
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012, 07:37 PM
I've been considered running DnD(specifically, Pathfinder) in a Norse-influenced setting.

Jamey Martin
Thursday, July 12th, 2012, 05:53 PM
CHAPTER #4

And so it was that Edgar took the time to bury the burnt remains of Helga. Then, with the rising of the sun, he made his way back to Glitterstead where he immediately proceeded to the personal cabin of Headman Thurstan and confronted him over the burning. He demanded to see the body of the miner they claimed had died "mysteriously". And indeed, Edgar's inspection of the corpse revealed red stains on the man's finger tips, and berries lodged in his throat. The fool had eaten poison berries! Edgar was wroth, but while Thurstan was not unremorseful he nevertheless argued that it was Edgar who had brought talk of witchery to Glitterstead, stirring up the fears of the people, and then had the unwisdom to lock limbs with the chief suspect; to share the bed of a potential seductress and fornicator with unclean spirits! As such, how else could they interpret Edgar's sudden "change of heart" as he stood there, naked, and now claiming that the lass was, without a doubt, no witch? Surely he had been bewitched! And if nothing else, Thurstan reasoned, better they all be rotten bastards then risk a return of the evil and tyranny of Wod.

While Edgar could see something of Thurstan's point, most noteably regarding how the Gisiling had brought his own integrity into question, he nevertheless promised that his uncle, the Lord Albrecht, would hear of this matter and of Thurstan's loose lips; for how else did anyone in Glitterstead know of Edgar's business here?

Thurstan's only reply was a remorseful, "men must do as they must."

And so Edgar next made his way over to the camp's small beer hall. Most of the miners had already taken their breakfast and set off to work, but therein the Gisiling nevertheless found his kinsman Harek, along with Falco and Dirk, still lounging about. He greeted them and told them his tragic tale of yester-eve. Harek was of half a mind to go run Thurstan through this very moment for daring to handle a Gisling in any such manner as his men did, but Edgar nay-said him and pointed out that any such actions would be for Lord Albrecht himself to decide upon. He then asked into the matter of Garmund the hunter and these "unusual husks" of his.

Harek told that, indeed, these husks of Garmund's were very unusual. They had in fact found a fresh one ... torn up right and proper, partially devoured, but carrying a tremendous, musky stench to them which might be the reason scavengers would not touch them. For Harek's part, he had seen the remains of Karl and a number of the wolfheads found at the old dwarven hold; this looked nothing like them. It was likely as Garmund said, some form of troll had entered the area. Harek went on to argue that Hauk, and others, might well rub their lack of particpation in the war with Drakensberg in; stuck up here in the Hercynian Mountains chasing "witches, ghosts and fairies" as they were. If however they could return to Gisilberg as trollslayers, like heroes of legend, well, far from holding their manhood in question, the other lads would all be green with envy.

It was thus agreed upon that they would test their luck agaisnt this troll before continuing to pursue the matter of witchery. Perhaps the two were related? Either way, the rest of the day was spent securing the aid of Garmund -- who said that he might well be able to track the fiend -- and marshalling what aid they could from the miners of Glitterstead. Of these, only 4 men were willing to lend their aid, two young men around their own grown-but-as-yet-untested age, an old man of some fifty winters who feared he would end up suffering the pains of old age and die in misery, and one more man of a few years who rightly believed that if there was a troll nearby they'd best get it before it started getting them.

The group thus set out the following morning, eventually coming to the area the most recent husk was found in. En route Edgar spied an old turfed hut, partially built into the ground. Garmund said that it belonged to a mad old hermit that had long made his home in these parts, and Edgar made a mental note of it; intending to look into the matter once their troll business was complete.

By late morning they had arrived at the site of the husk. It was gone, but the bloody mess that remained was clear proof that it had indeed once been here. And it did not take long for Garmund to pick up the spour of the troll. They tracked it for the remainder of the day, straying ever more south and west, and ever closer to the border of the kingdom of Hercynia, until they at last spied a broad cave mouth at the bottom of a wide ravine.

A quick camp was set up and no few moments were lost in conversation regarding how to best approach this matter. According to the myths and legends of the Ingaevones, trolls could be turned to stone from sunlight. And so, while they might not be able to trick or force the troll out into the sunlight, they could use it to cover their escape if their assault went awry. And so, before anymore daylight could be lost quibbling over the small, and often contradictory details of troll lore, Harek and Edgar had sparked up a torch and began making their way toward the cave mouth. They were soon joined by Garmund, while the others quickly fell in behind them.

Within they encountered, first, a largish troll of monsterous visage standing nearly 8' tall, and then two smaller but nevertheless ferocious trolls standing around 7' tall. These smaller trolls emerged from a deep chamber within the cave even as the large troll fell. In the two battles, the old timer and two youthful miners, along with Garmund the hunter, were all slaughtered by the viscious claws of the trolls. But in the end, the luck of the Gisiling's proved to be exceptional, and the trolls -- a mother and her two nearly grown troll pups still groggy from their days sleep -- were slain!

Not one troll, but THREE! Three trolls who's heads they went on to take as proof of their manly exploits, before quitting the troll den altogether.

Jamey Martin
Saturday, July 21st, 2012, 08:46 AM
CHAPTER #5

Victorious in their battle against the trolls, Edgar, Harek, Falco, Dirk, and the one surviving miner spent the night at their camp of yestereve before setting out on the return trip to Glitterstead the following morning. Along the way, Edgar stopped at the hut of the mad hermit Garmund had told them of on their way out. He found the hermit to be a wild-eyed, spindley limbed, and an overall pitiful excuse for a man. A raving lunatic to be sure, who threatened the Gisiling with the wrath of Wod, all the while spitting folkish curses and shaking a churlish attempt at a nithing staff at him. But Edgar knew of runecraft and witchery, and that of the madman was akin to Helga's ... folkish nonsense with no power ... mere pagentry on behalf of this frightened old lunatic, designed to frighten off those who might harm him in his isolation.

Edgar soon left the company of the madman, unimpressed, but unable to shake his mention, his warning, that "Hagguth is once again on the prowl". He knew this name, Haggutha, but could not place it at first. Then later, after meeting up with the others and pressing on to Glitterstead, both Falco and Dirk mentioned that they too recalled this name. They recalled that when they were but pupplings, a number of men had gone missing in the Hyrcenian Mountains and how the adults whispered in hushed tones about "Burnt Haggutha" or "Hagguth the Witch" and shuddered at the possilbity of her "return". A secret that everyone knew about, but no one talked about.

And so it was the following day that the Gislar lads returned to Gisilberg. There Edgar sought out his grandmother and asked her of Haggutha. She hushed him and scratched hexes of protection in the air, explaining that it was forbidden to speak that dark and unholy name. But when Edgar explained to her the tale of Karl, the wolfheads, the witchery found at the dwarven hold, and then of the words of the madman, the wise old crone knew the tale of Hagguth could be "hidden" no longer.

She spoke of the reign of her own great uncle, the Lord Gisilbert, some hundred seasons agone, and of the great turmoil that followed his wedding to a Saxon lass who name has since been stricken from scrolls and neglected by gleomen. All that is remembered is that she was a beautiful Saxon lass sought after by all of the lords that ruled in the southernmost of the Saxonlands. Battles were fought for her hand, and in the end it was Lord Gisibert that claimed her as his prize. His love for her was great, and it ruled him in everyway. He would hear no wrong of her ... on pain of death ... but she was fickle and trothless, her "indiscretions" many and varied.

Many a man, both earl and thrall, knew her. And she was a great friend to all evil women. Crowds of such vixens were said to follow her about. And some said that this was no mere gossipy entourage, but indeed, a coven of witches, and the Lady of the Gisilings a witchqueen. Some say her coven numbered in the hundreds, and that she in fact drew her power from Wod himself; not indirectly as all witches ultimately do, but via personal and direct invocation! And some say that she was responsible for the rash of young children that went missing during this time; a belief that ultimately sparked war amongst the southern Saxon Lords once again. And while Lord Gisilbert was once again victorious, this time in defense of his Lady, he was struck a wound that proved to be mortal in the closing battle. And with his death, it was the Gisilings themselves that seized Gisilbert's lady, placed a bag over her head, and charged her before the Tivar with witchery. And it is for this reason alone that the Gisilings maintain their rank and station today. But in the end, the witchqueen was found guilty and burned at the stake. Her remains were then taken to the Nebel-bogs upon the Brocken in the Hercynian Mountains, and there sunk deep to join the other offspring of shameful felony and malicious deceit.

And so it was thought that the matter had been dealt with and life got back to normal in the Saxon south. But no more than a season had passed when those very Gisilings and their co-conspirators that had taken part in the trial of Gisilbert's lady began to turn up horribly slain. Hagguth as the folk began to call her had crawled out of the Nebel-bogs to seek her revenge.

Some say her witches gathtered to chant her back to life, others say likewise, but it was not the lady that arose from those bogs, but something older and more terrible still. But many died, and such was the fear that, before long, folk began leaving their unwanted children at the Nebel-bogs as offerings to appease Burnt Haggautha and satiate her anger. This worked until the folk themselves could no longer tolerate it. A hero emerged to track down Burnt Haggutha, slay and burn her once again; thence to return her remains to the Nebel-bogs.

And so again the matter was thought dealt with and a generation passed, when again folk began disappearing and then turning up horribly murdered and multilated. Again the folk whispered of the return of the Hagguth the Witch. But, or so the story goes, this time Hagguth had the misfortune of capturing two Gisiling youths, Edgar's own great-grandfather and his sister in fact. They are said to have tricked Hagguth, slipping their bonds and locking her in her own hut, before burning it down and recommitting her remains to the Nebel-bogs. But indeed, Edgar's grandmother continued, it remains that whenever someone goes missing in the Hercynian Mountians whispers will again begin to be heard of the old witch Haggutha; though such rumours die as quickly as they are born lest they lend to her actual return.

But this time ... THIS time ... Edgar himself had seen the signs. What else could it have been that snuck into their midst and bore off Karl without a trace? That tore his chest open and picked his insides clean? That done the same to a small army of wolfheads? And what was it that knew witchery powerful enough to cause the dead to get up and walk?

Edgar believed he now had answers for Lord Albrecht. Terrible answers.