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Many thanks to Roby Lyon (Silverbeard, Hendel), Dale Thompson (The Necromancer), Christopher William Price (Grimbad), Wayne DeZwart (Melkor), Tracy Kwong (Eirlys), Nicola Rammers (Keladry), Mark O'Connor (Ceartes), Luke Vairy (Vharik), Amy Delaportes(The Unnamed Rogue), Jonathan Whitfield (Janus), Nathan Hodge (Felmar), Brendan Missio (Lucien), Ryan Chenoweth (The Green Clad Dwarf ), Sammy Owen (Mog) and Lyn Hewett (Ealenore) for their contributions to this epic, ongoing story...

Prologue – The Necromancers Gambit

The Necromancer -

Standing on the hill, watching the setting sun slowly advance their shadows over the landscape below, The hooded figure allows himself a snort of amusement at the irony of the image. Much like their shadows were seeping into the lands of Elgardt, so too were their infiltrators leaching into the lands below. Each of the factions, so proud of their might, so willing to fight and kill, had been "infected", key members turned or replaced. The Orc, Grimbad, had unwittingly provided the perfect opportunity with his rebellion, and it was not one that they were going to miss. With a wave of his hand, and a mental push, The Necromancer sends his minions forward, down towards the unsuspecting ands below. The Maw hungered, and he would see to it personally that it was WELL feed....with the souls of the Clans of Elgardt!

Grimbad – Orc, The Chain Breakers Edit

Grimbad glares down at the dwarven body by his feet. So like his old masters, and yet so very different, the surface dwarf brings mixed feelings to it's Orcish killer.

The Dwarven patrol had stumbled upon The Chain Breakers as they made passage through the eastern hills. No sooner had the bearded warriors spied the broken chain sigil than they had drawn weapons and leapt to combat, chants of "Silverbeard! Silverbeard!" on their tongues.

Grimbad initially relished the chance to lay waste to these foes, unleashing the wildest of his companions before striding in to support; hacking, biting, snarling with vengeful abandon... But as he fought, he began to catch words of enmity for some perceived slight. It seemed that Silverbeard was not some random war shout, but rather a name, and somehow the Chain Breakers were being blamed for it's owner's demise.

As the fighting wore to a close, and the wounded were dragged aside to be healed, Grimbad stalks toward the nearest living dwarf.

The bloodied warrior coughs, meeting Grimbad's gaze unwavering. "You're the one," it wheezed, "the murderer behind this rabble... You killed Silverbeard!"

"Grimbad not kill the one you say," the dwarf's shock at hearing his own language growled back at is clear, "and if he did, killed him while not knowing name... Maybe dwarf death deserved."

The dwarf spits blood at Grimbad. Ignoring this, the Orc kneels down face to face with his captive. "Where this dwarf killed?"

Confused, the dwarf replies, "In the fringes, two days past. As if you don't know!"

"Grimbad now in hills of east. He get here by flying? Bring on-foot war-band swifter than wind too?" Grimbad givesthe captive his most earnest look; he is genuinely puzzled by the crime, and annoyed that he should be blamed for a deed he does not recall.

The dwarf ponders for a moment... but then, as expected, the old racial hatred sweeps back across his features,

"Blasted Orc deceit! Tell me no more lies!" The dwarf can say little else, as a terrible cough racks his body. With a final choking sigh, the dwarf breaths his last.

"Why Orc lie to dying enemy?" Grimbad mutters to no one. This does not bode well for his makeshift tribe of outcasts.

"We take loot?" Comes the cry from one of his band mates.

"Aye. We be needing it soon." Grimbad turns away, wiping his sword clean on a rag. He feels no joy in this massacre.

Bad things are coming, for himself and his people. Though provoked, surely a new batch of dead dwarves would not help. They would have to go on the hunt, to avoid being hunted in turn.

"What of meat?" Calls another brute, this one a towering troll. To emphasise the point, it nudges one of the corpses.

Grimbad considers carefully.

"Leave these ones. Grimbad not knowing what trouble we in... but at guessing... ready for war, all of you."

With that he stalks from the scene, into the dark night, to think on their next move; his closest advisors gathering one by one.

Melkor, Dark Elf – The Chain Breakers Edit

Melkor wanders over to the last of the Dwarven survivors - still clinging to life by a thread. Smiling at the treat to come, he smacks the Dwarf back into coherence with the flat of his hand, while grabbing a silver chalice from his back pack.

"Master Dwarf, this is nothing personal. More of a joy, and addiction for a sacrifice to my goddess.”

Melkor unsheathes a ceremonial dagger, and notices his victims look of anger.

"Worry not master Dwarf. This blade is indeed sharp, and cuts true. From it I shall drink a sacrament to my Lolth.”

"May un-death and eternal torment follow you,” the Dwarf growls as he gurgles his own blood. “I know who, and what you are, Dark Elf! The Malevolent!, drinker of the blood of his vanquished foes! You may have my blood, but it is tainted by my hatred, my disdain, and disgust of you!"

"That shall make it ever the more sweet for me." Melkor replies, smiling as he lowers the blade to the neck of theDwarf. Slitting his throat in one swift motion, he catches the blood in the Chalice as the Dwarfs eyes darked and close.

“Thank you master Dwarf. Your sacrament will be remembered.” and Melkor drinks...

Eirlys – The Wanderer Edit

She travels light and fast, knowing that there is every chance her artefact has already been smuggled out of Elgardt. A Mage has been seen wielding it, but the news was old when she heard it and she fears that the trail had grown cold.

Days have gone by, but she feels no hunger save for vengeance, and no thirst but for blood on her blade. The artefact tuggs at the back of her mind in waking, and sings to her in her sleep. Until she has it in her grasp she can never truly be at peace.

At moonrise on the seventh day, she reaches the borderlands of Elgardt. She takes care where she treads as the cold light of the moon leans a sinister cast to the tall grasses, hinting at hazards hidden beneath them. There is a frost on the wind, and as she walks she lets its chill revive her.

Breathing in deeply, she catches the scent of magic, and recognises the signature upon it - tainted as it is with the iron tang of blood. The frost sings to her softly, and though she tries to ignore it, the words echo in her mind:

~ A great dwarf was slain here, wise and deeply respected,~ the frost sang, ~ His blood blesses this ground. Take some sister, for it harbours a strength that you may need.

~Considering the task ahead of her, she decides to heed the words of the wind this time. Any strength will not go amiss, and though she is wary of the frost, it has never lead her astray.

Taking a small vial from her pouch, she kneels to the ground and fills it with blood and earth. As she stopperes it, she hesitates, feeling a balance is needed. Drawing her dagger and making a shallow cut upon her arm, she waits a long moment for blood to well up before pressing it to the earth she has disturbed.

"I mean no harm to those who are innocent, I only wish to see justice done."

She pauses, feeling an expectant weight loom over her.

"My blood for yours, good master. For your blessing."

With those words, the weight shifts to the vial in her hand and she feels the balance restored.

"Thank you."

Pocketing the vial, she takes a moment to feel the bond of the artefact in her mind. The frost sings to her again.

~It is here in Elgardt, sister .~

She does not listen this time, but walks on, now wary of the attackers that could have felled the great dwarf.

A Night at the Jolly Dragon...

Keladry, Elf – A Tavern Maid Edit

The Barmaid folds the parchment and purses her lips in silent contemplation, not realising the scrutiny she is under

till the kitchen boy thwacks her across the shoulder with a ladle.

"Well?" He demands, "What's the news?"

She looks up to see the folk at the bar muttering nervously into their cups, eyeing her shaking hands with trepidation.

They know the news is not good.

"The dwarf Silverbeard is dead, perished not 2 weeks ago," she declares. A murmur sreads through the tavern, and the

girl raises her hands for silence.

"Also, a small group of Dwarves have been found murdered... not far from here."

The kitchen hand, a youth not yet 16, turns an odd shade of green. The tavern patrons are staring in disbelief. One

begins to shake his head.

"The lass is making this up!” he shouts, grabbing the parchment from her. “I can't make hide nor hair of this writing!

It's some sort of elvish babble!"

The girl sighs, reaches up and removes the bandanna that covers her head - letting them see her pointed ears for the

first time. The silence speaks volumes, and she uses the lull to her advantage.

"Sharpen your blades and think about your slaves," she is taking a risk here. The smell of burning flesh threatens to

choke her, but she pushes the phantoms away.

"If they are freed," she pauses, looking at each man in turn, "then who will pay the price for their captivity?"

Moving to the bar, she draws her sword from its hiding place there,

"Be ready friends," she says, laying the keen Elven blade across her knees, and looking out the window to where the

sun sets over distant hills, and the first flakes of snow begin to fall.

"Something is coming".

Vharik, Human – Norsemen Edit

Vharik gulps down down the last drop of ale from his mug, and slams the empty vessel onto the table. He turns to the

tavern keep and demands another. The publican thinks to himself:

"This Norseman will drink me rich." turning with a smile, and begins to pour the drunken oaf another mug.

As Vharik scans the room through blurry eyes, his ears hear a familiar name being whispered in the corner - a name

that Vharik would never forget. For when he first came to Elgardt it belonged to one of the first friendly faces he saw.

He remembered the dwarf who took to him, and taught him how to wield hammer, and axe alike. Why - he could

even hold his own in a drinking contest! Vharik rises from his chair and makes his way over to the table where the

the gossip had caught his ear. He slams his palms on the table.

"What news have you of Karak Silverbeard?"

The two men are startled by the drunken Norseman. One turns and says "Have you had your head in the ground?

Everyone knows that Karak was killed on the fringes nigh two weeks ago.”

"Yeah I 'erd it was Orcs.” the smaller of two pipes in.

With a mighty roar, Vharik upends the table, throwing the two men sitting at it to the ground, and in a loud voice he

vowed:

"By the gods! Whoever has taken such a fine dwarf from this world will feel the vengeance of my steel!”

Ceartas, Human – Paladin. Edit

It seemed like hours as he waited; a lone figure cloaked in white, standing patiently at their agreed meeting place. The

Dwarf had not shown – his mentor, Karak, the only one he trusted in this strange land. With no longer the patience to

wait, Ceartas moves along the path, headed in the direction to where his friend should be travelling. With little to no

clues as to where the Silverbeard could be, fears for his friends safety grew as the last light of the setting sun

dwindled. Something catches Ceartas' eye – a glimpse of light, like a gleam of naked steel. Moving towards the

reflection, the churning in his stomach grows, and something seems amiss.

A jagged blade, too refined to be human, too bleak to be Elven... Orcish! With a bolt of realisation, Ceartas runs

carrying the crude weapon in his left hand. Cresting a hill, he sees him there – the lifeless body of his friend and

companion, sitting with his back against the trunk of a mighty tree – a jagged, dark blade still protruding from his

gut, and his lifeless eyes staring at the awakening starts.

Ceartes wipes a tear from his eye, and gently closes the lids of the Dwarf's with his free hand. It all seems wrong. Orcs

could not have done this. The kill is too clean, and the body undisturbed. And yet the weapon remained, and it's

evidence seems damning. Rising to his feet, he resolves that he must signal the rest of his clan. Something is wrong,

something sinister is about to unfold.

Keladry, Elf – A Tavern Maid Edit

A commotion in the corner draws her attention from her stewing pot. A large Norseman has upturned a table and is

yelling obscenities. The two men sitting there look stunned and push themselves back as the bearded warrior waves

his arms around.

"What in the Hells is this!" mutters the tavern keeper as he rushes over to calm the man down. The Bar-maid pours

the man a drink.

He sits at the table, red in the face, but calms as the fresh beer is pressed into his shaking hand. He drains it in one

gulp.

"I'm Keladry," says the Bar-maid, extending a hand of friendship. His giant palm engulfs her own. She pulls away

wincing after the crushing handshake.

"Vharik.” the Norseman belches.

Vharik, Human – Norsemen Edit

The rage subsides and his blood cools as he turns to the young tavern girl.

“I'm sorry lass, I've bit of temper. I didn't mean to scare you."

It is not fear, however, that he sees in the girls face. Only curiosity at his sudden outburst.

"It's a strange place this Elgardt, and so far Karak has been the only friendly face.”

The tavern keeper yells at the girl to get back back to work. The Nord passes him withering glance and booms:

"Leave her be and fetch me that mead that I saw behind the counter. This ale couldn't drown a kitten.”

He grabs a hand full of roast meat from the plate of the table next to him. It's owner makes no complaint - not

wanting to attract the ire of the towering Norseman. There is silence except for the noises he makes as he chews the

meat from between the clenched fingers of his fist.

"A strange place indeed this Elgardt but it's here I shall make my name.”

His attentions turn back to the tavern girl and for the first time, he notices her pointed Elf ears. He finds himself

alarmed, and confused. In his lands the elves are dark, cruel and twisted creatures - but this one is fair and lacks the

malice he is accustomed to in Elves. Not being one for manners or proper courtesies, he sits back in his chair lets out a

tremendous belch.

"So your an Elf hey?”

The Unnamed Rogue. Edit

The stench of ale and sweat is thick in the air of the tavern, as are the patrons who frequent this establishment. Drink

and dull men make easy coin indeed for a young Rogue, and easy coin equates to an easy living. That is, until one of

these drunken louts are sober and clever enough to figure out her ruse.

However, Lady Luck does not shine her favour upon the girl tonight. Nor has she for a fortnight past. Tales of stirrings

in the South have unsettled the superstitious folk. The men now prefer to test their might by brawling than to test

their wits gambling. There are stories of unnatural creatures slithering from the shadows, and of beasts swarming

over settlements in the dead of night. "Witchcraft", they murmur, "sorcery" they spit in hushed tones. These people

have not forgotten what had befallen them in the Great Mage War, and many had taken to carrying arms lest one

these foul abominations happens upon them on their drunken stumble home. Men with blades seldom soothe their

wounded pride with ale, so business has been very slow indeed. What use is a purse filled to the brim if one's head has

been rendered from one's shoulders?

A great commotion brings the girls musings to a sudden halt. Through the rumble of the tavern, a voice laments the

fall of a Dwarven hero. Her heart sinks - it could not be Karak. That fool was too stubborn to die. The Elvish lass does

not falter in the face of the drunken rabble before her, her will is made of steel. A thunderous voice drowns out the

Elf, mourning the loss of such a fine Dwarf. The girl cannot help but smile a little at this. For one whose demeanour

was akin to a briar patch, the obstinate old ass always charmed whomever he met with his blunt honesty and forward

nature.

Only one could cause an Elf and a Northman to parley on such amiable terms. Perhaps dear Tyche has not withheld

her grace. The girls fingers itch to wield blade and mace once more. Slipping past the rabble, she slides next to the

giant Northman (whose beard looks not unlike a red rhododendron) much to the surprise of the Elvish lass.

"I do apologise profusely for intruding. I could not help but ponder how curious a fate it is – that it seems we all share

an acquaintance."

The Northman looks at her as though she's sprouted an extra limb, and the Elf is equally taken aback. Before they can

move, or speak – the newcomer plants her coin purse upon the rough wood of the table,

"I am more accustomed acquiring coin than parting with it - however I have a rather intriguing proposal. Only that

bristle-beard, Karak, could unite a diverse assemblage such as ourselves. I, for one owe the dwarf a great debt, and

seek justice for his death. What say you?"

Grimbad – Orc, The Chain Breakers Edit

The gathering disperses, warriors return to their sleeping furs or their roasted meats. Grimbad finds himself alone,

just outside the light of the camp-fire. Much has been discussed, though little settled.

Many wish to go on the offensive; one glance at their still meagre numbers convinces Grimbad of the folly in this

notion. The dwarves who attacked them had been inexperienced, and greatly outnumbered, convinced of their

superiority through years of indoctrination by clan elders. Others would be tougher to slay. That option was out.

Others wish to go into hiding, eking out their living from banditry until the time came to resurface. Grimbad himself,

had begun the talk that leaned towards this option. He saw there as a strong chance to survive... but Grimbad was no

common marauder, and neither were his companions. They were mercenaries - soldiers for hire. They would turn to

raiding if forced to (as with so many things in their lives), but they would not just give up, and they certainly would

not fuel any more rumours that his people were monsters waiting in the hills; an unthinking horde of murderers and

thieves... not yet. Not by choice.

As for Grimbad himself, the way was no less clear. The death of this Dwarf, Silverbeard, was being laid at his feet.

Wrongfully. The whole situation stank of the games his masters had once played - blaming their Orcish slaves for

imagined slights, and then punishing them to appease a lust for suffering...

A thought crosses the Orc's mind. Perhaps the one behind this WAS some warmongering sadist. There are many of

such in Elgardt, Grimbad had seen, even amongst the dwellers of the surface lands. If he was being used as some kind

of pawn, Grimbad would have to find the culprit. Afterward, the ignorant bastards could lay a true murder at his feet.

He needed to know more, before his mind was set to course.

Leaving his war-band to rest or feed themselves, Grimbad sets off. With the hills behind him; he heads for a small,

well-lit village in the distance. He was no stranger to townships (no matter what they said of him), and his time spent

as a sell-sword had taught him this: If you want to overhear rumours about troubling times ahead, enter a tavern by

the dead of night.

Knowing that his folk would be ready upon his return, their self sufficiency a defining feature of the Chain Breakers,

Grimbad pulls a thick cloak about himself and begins wrapping rags about his Orcish features. Best to play this safely.

"We need knowing what next..." He grows.

Melkor, Dark Elf – The Chain Breakers Edit

Melkor notices Grimbad's troubled expressions, and thoughts begin to fly. His stomach turns in knots with a sense of

foreboding that he had not felt since his people own people cast him out for his barbaric and sickening nature.

What is this? "A turn of nature?" he thinks to himself. He knows he'll never lose the blood-lust, but his reputation is

beginning to catch up with him. What if his reputation had led to this framing? "It's time to tone it back, old friend".

Grabbing the Silver Chalice from his pack, he sneaks out of camp and burrows a hole between two ancient oak trees,

and places the vessel of sacrament there. He is about to fill the hole back in, when he notices a dark silhouette, one

hundred yards distant, leaving the camp.

Melkor has the feeling it is Grimbad, and wonders - "Why does he leave? Are things really that bad?".

He returns to the camp, and takes from his pack an old, worn tunic without sleeves - which casts a low level shimmer

of an old man on the wearer. He puts on a tattered travelling cloak, and tracks the Orc up wind.

The lights of a township become visible from the hills, and Melkor scuffles up behind Grimbad – appearing as a

hobbled old man, clutching a walking stick that drags behind in the dirt.

"Excuse me young man!, will you help a feeble old soul into town? It's a wonder I'm alive as it is".

"Melkor, your tricks not disguise scent," growls Grimbad, accustomed to the Dark Elf's sorcerous ways. "But ready

blade by side is good to Grimbad. We need lay of the land. Maybe then, with knowing, comes answer to problems for

war-band."

Grimbad gives his companion a firm welcoming thump on the shoulder, as they trudged ever closer to the lights.

In jest, Melkor lets the thump almost knock him over, then gathers his balance with his walking stick and says:

"This Melkor you speak of, I heard of his passing not three hours ago. Stalked by Dwarves he was, and slowly bled dry.

That Elvish scum tried to slit my throat you know! Their rescue came none too soon! I am Nalthar." he winks at his

travel companion, and laughs as they continue to walk.

Keladry, Elf – A Tavern Maid Edit

She breathes through my mouth to distil the scent of burning from her nose. A familiar fear began to rise as she

looked from Vharik to the unnamed woman. With dark hair and amazing... assets, she was certainly one to catch

Vhariks attention. Keladry was surprised the man was still eating with this woman sitting so close by.

She looks from woman, to the coin purse on the table. It is more than Keladry had saved in a year - what with food

and board. She'd never met Silverbeard, but had heard his name spoken with awe and respect. He had been a good

man... Dwarf... whatever.

The fear that kept her trapped in this tavern, working day in, day out - covering her Elven heritage; splintered a little

inside her. The decision is made.

The door blows open with a gust of cold air, and two figures trudge in - armed against the cold, and the night.

Keladry looks around the tavern, considering what a spectacle they were making of themselves. Many other patrons

were looking at the purse with hunger in their eyes. She stood, and slid closer to her companions.

"If you can afford that," she says "then you can afford to be patient.” Her breath nearly catches in my throat, but she

works past it. It makes her sound huskier than she really is, and for a moment she fantasises that she sounds

dangerous, and sexy. Vharik nearly drops his chicken and she struggles to keep her features clear from laughter. Does

he think she is doing it on purpose? Scooping up the purse, and tucking it into her boot - she suddenly feels guilty for

her brazenness. She nod to both the strangers, one small and one large.

"I'll rent you some rooms. We can talk later tonight, after the rush. Your drinks are on me.”

She leaves them before they have the chance to object, hoping they won't ruin her exit. She ponders if the as yet

unnamed woman will get drunk enough to spill her secrets...

Janus Aurelius, Human - “The Void Walker”. Edit

The ragged stranger is dressed as if he were a monk, or beggar save for the gleam of a sharp, shimmering blade at his

side. He sits quietly in the dark corner, and barely stirs from his observant vigil as he is approached by the barkeep.

"You will have to order something, or leave." demands the publican.

The stranger casually turns to face him.

"I'll have silence.” he coldly retorts.

"You deadbeat,” growls the barkeep. “You'll have to do more than just stare at the waitress if you wish to remain under

my roof!"

"These eyes do more than see.” the hooded stranger responds coldly. “Both a blessing, and a curse."

His eyes flare with an eerie light as he locks gaze with the portly man. The piercing blue flame seems to reach right

into publicans soul – and he turns in shock, trying to cover the wetness that stains his trousers. He decides to leave

this one alone. Obviously there is more to this stranger...

Vharik, Human – Norsemen Edit

Watching the young elf walk off with the coin purse, Vharik looks back to the mysterious nameless woman.

"Well this has been and eventful evening, far more more eventful than expected from this backwater shit hole of a

tavern". He casts a glance back to the elf working the bar. "It seems the young she elf has taken your offer and your,

well - our gold".

"It would seem so.” the nameless women manages with a wry smile. “Are you nervous that she's going to run off with

it?”

After taking a great swig from mead bottle, he laughs and leans in to the dark featured stranger.

"The she elf? No, and if she did I think I know where to find her. You I suspect are not as easy to find if I needed.”

There is a moments silence as the two try to gauge each others intentions, and the Norseman double checks his pouch

to ensure that it has not been relieved of its gold.

"So you knew the old dwarf hey? If that and your offer are true, then I am very interested. For now, lets drink.”

The two share drinks and make small talk till the evening star is high in the sky. Looking out the window over the

blanket of new snow, Vharik reflects on the evening events.

"So lass do you like to sing?” he downs the last of his mead and pushes his chair back from the table to stand. “Did old

Karak ever teach you the War horns of Elgadrt?"

Before she can answer he turns to the room and yells -

"Who here knows the War horns of Elgardt?"

There are few looks of acknowledgement from the crowd, so he begins a low drum on the wooden table before him.

Dum da dum da dum da dum, and then begins to sing, as some of the crowd joining in.

"When the cold winds blow, the Northman row"

"With the waves at there keel, and hearts of steel"

"When the war horns sound in Elgardt"

"When deep in the mines, stir the Dwarven kind"

"By iron and beard, are rightly feared"

"When the war horns sound in Elgardt"

"All across the holds, the Orcs grow bold"

"Broken now their chains, and sharp their blades"

"When the war horns sound in Elgardt"

"When the Elven fey, begin to stray"

"By ancient lore, they prepare for war"

"When the war horns sound in Elgardt"

"In the darkness of night, the dead do rise"

" And for power do thirst, The Evil Cursed"

"When the war horns sound in Elgardt"

"Men leave their farms, and ready thier arms"

"They kiss their wives, and give their lives"

"When the war horns sound in Elgardt"

"The Gods they scheme, and set the scene"

"For war is their are art, and we play our part"

"When the war horns sound in Elgardt"

There is a cheer from the crowd as he retakes his seat. Upending his bottle, and finding only dregs – he flings the

empty glass to the floor, which shatters – shocking the crowd into silence, only to be broken by a renewed round of

cheering.

“That one was for you, Silverbeard old friend.” mutters Vharik to himself.

Eirlys – The Wanderer Edit

The tavern looked inviting, the glow of its fire flickering in the chill night, but as Eirlys slipped in door – the place was

in uproar at the news of the death of the dwarf they called Silverbeard.

“Silverbeard?” she thought, “Is it your blood I have in my amulet?”

The feelings of communal aggression settle over her, and her hand reaches towards her eager blade. As quick as he is

to anger, the large red man who caused the disturbance is calmed by the fair young girl who serves the tavern.

Her thirst for battle denied; Eirlys feels her hunger for the first time in days, and decides that a meal would not go

amiss. She makes to follow the tavern girl, but the large man rises slowly, and starts to sing.

Eirlys finds herself entranced by the music, and feelings his words engender - the depth of his song and sorrow. This

is what she had been following; the winds of war which led her to Elgardt.

As the red man finishes his song, she shakes herself from its spell, and looked for the tavern keeper.

“For now, food,” she thinks. “War can wait.”

Hendel Hammerfist, Dwarf – Wruenbane. Edit

As Grimbad and Melkor enter the tavern, their way is barred by a heavyset figure enshrouded in a black cloak.

"Might I 'ave a moment of yer time laddie?" speaks the cloaked one.

The Orc turns, and his eyes widen in alarm as the figure before him throws back his hood.

“Hammerfist!” he cries, reaching for his sword – but a gentle hand is already there, pushing the blade back into it's

sheath.

"No need for that, laddie. I am only here to talk.”

The Orc relaxes, but remains alert. Grimbad and Melkor exchange worried glances, but hear what the Dwarf has to

say.

“The Wruenbane know your lads are bein' framed for the Silverbeard's murder. Rest assured, we are looking into it.”

Looking furtively over his shoulders, lest others in the tavern should see or hear their dealings, he shepherds the

Chain Breakers back out the door.

“Head back to your camp, look afteryourChain Breakers. I'll try to keep our youngsters from causing trouble, and I

hope you'll do the same with yours. Ye have no business here, and yer presence will only cause trouble if y'er

detected.”

The Orc nods in agreement and thrusts out his hand. The Hammer shakes grips it firmly, and shakes.

"Just remember laddie, not all men are like yer old masters".

As the pair turn to leave, the Dwarfs hand shoots out, and closes round Melkor's throat.

“I'll give you one last warning, Dark Elf. If I see another Dwarf with his throat cut in sacrifice, there is no place that

will keep you safe from me!”

With that he throws him to the ground, politely nods at Grimbad and turns to enter the tavern...

Melkor, Dark Elf – Chain Breakers Edit

After being tossed to the snowy ground, Melkor flaps his arms playfully to create a snow angel where he fell.

"Hear ye all! From this day forth I renounce the partaking in my sacrificial ways!” the Dark Elf calls.

Spry but still shaken by the Dwarfs threat, he springs to his feet does a star jump on the spot. The Dwarf readies

himself for an attack, but Melkor only bows and says;

"Oh mighty Wyvern slayer! Hmmm, you are definitely more agile than you look, young master Dwarf!"

Meeting the Dwarfs gaze, Melkor breaks into a smile. "Your threat is noted, but this threat comes too late. Those ways

I have given up, but if it makes you feel any better; I sacrificed all races, even that of my porcine friend here.”

Melkor jabs Grimbad in the ribs playfully. The gruff Orc is unimpressed, and punches Melkor, full in the face. Melkor

laughs at the blow, regathering his composure and wiping a trickle of blood from his lip. Grimbad inclines his head

sharply, indicating it is time to leave.

"Why Grimbad bring you, he know not. You good fighter, but bad negotiator." He hits Melkor once more as they walk

off into the night - this time in the shoulder, and without force. They both laugh, but only for a moment before the

gravity of what is to come takes hold once more.

Hendel Hammerfist, Dwarf – Wruenbane. Edit

As The Hammerfist enters the tavern, he is greeted by the last verses of the big Northman's song, and the rousing

applause from many of the patrons. He wanders over to the Northman's table.

" Can I buy a drink you laddie? And one for the lass?" he asks, making an effort to sound polite. He eyes the dark

featured Rogue at the table. They both nod politely, and the Dwarf seems to radiate a sense of calm and authority

without effort. As the bar wench comes over to take their order, she looks upon the dwarf and gasps.

"You are Hendel Hammerfist of the Wruenbane are you not?".

That I am lass.” the dwarf chuckles in good humour. "Why don't ye bring some drinks for my friends, and one fer

yourself. I have a proposition for ye'all".

Intrigued the elf rushes off to get drinks while the Norseman and the dark one eye the dwarf with curiosity.

Keladry, Elf – A Tavern Maid Edit

The Elf-maid rushes back to the bar to serve the grizzly Dwarf. Known throughout the land as the Hammer, she

recalls that he is the hero who had destroyed a fierce Wyvern only months ago.

Her heart skips a beat as she thinks of the massive fire breathing beast. It had swept through town only once during

its awakening, and had set half the village alight - roaring fury and terror into the dark. Keladry had raced out with

all the townsfolk, and frozen at the sight of the flames leaping high into the night. Otto, the owner of the tavern, had

been forced to pull her away, lest she be taken by the beast as she stood there unmoving. Eventually she had joined the

human chain - drawing water from the cool dark lake, far from the flames.

Otto, the publican whistles at her before she can pull the beers for the strange companions at the table, tearing her

from her memories.

"Keladry! Whatcha doing! Food order!"

She looks from him, to the lady who has taken a seat at the bar. She has dark hair and a small, serious face. A long

spear is strapped across her back, and the Elf-maid is willing to bet that if she rounded the counter, she would see

more expensive, and shiny weapons about this woman.

"What can I get for you?" asks Keladry with force politeness in her voice. It's not this woman's fault that this is turning

out to be the most interesting night she'd had in two years. Her thoughts shift back to the present, and she considers

also that it is not smart to be impolite to someone so heavily armed.

The woman eyes Keladry carefully - a long, slow look - and a chill of alarm creeps up her spine. As the woman's dark

gaze considers her, she feels like she's being tested. Unsure of what to do, Keladry shifts her weight onto her heels and

stares back, waiting for this new comer to speak.

Eirlys – The Wanderer Edit

~So young and eager, yet you fear so much, Elf-kin. I could slow your heart’s frantic beating, sing you to a sleep so

deep that suffering cannot touch you.~

The thought came unbidden to Eirlys, almost if it were not her own. She shook herself mentally and smiled at the elfmaid.

“Bread and cheese, if you please, and knowledge if you have time to spare.”

“Of bread and cheese we have plenty ma'am, but knowledge...”

“Silverbeard,” Eirlys interrupts. The elf-maid starts at the mention. “His name echoes like a death knell in the bones of

your people. Who was he?”

Leaning forward keenly, Keladry hands Eirlys a plate of food, moving close, and whispering conspiritorially.

“Karak Silverbeard was a great Dwarf, a wise teacher, and a protector of our land and people. Not two weeks past, he

was found dead in the borderlands a short distance from here. Everyone wants to know who killed him, and many are

looking for revenge.”

Eirlys looks to the tavern keeper and the patrons around to make sure that none are watching them.

“Was magic detected at the site?” she asks.

“No. Some say that Orcs did it. A few Dwarves have died already while trying to avenge their leader.”

Eirlys inclines her head towards the table the elf had just been serving.

“The dwarf you call Hammer? While others clamour for blood, he does not. You seem eager to do his bidding. Why?”

Felmar Forsythe, Dark Elf – The Chain Breakers Edit

Felmar watched them enter from his vantage point on high - perched on the roof of the tavern like a pale and skinny

gargoyle. He pulls his cloak tightly around him to ward off the falling snow, and his spear rests lightly across one

shoulder. Now he watches them go, this strange pair: an Orc in a cloak, and an Old Man - or at least, a Dark Elf

wearing the glamor of an old man. The taint of the Arcane in the blood of his people lets him sense such illusions, and

his keen Elven ears heard snippets of their conversation even as they approached through the woods. Dropping

silently from the tavern roof, Felmar slips into the trees and begins to track them from a distance - listening to their

conversation just as he had listened to the murmurs in the tavern all night.

"Do you think we can trust them?" asks the Necromancer, rasping a cough as he rubs his neck where it has recently

been crushed.

"Dwarf could have called others in tavern if wanted us dead." grunts the Orc, Grimbad. "Me think he know Chain

Breaker not responsible. Cared about Silverbeard. Want to find real killer. Fight with Chain Breaker just distraction."

"Still, I get the impression he doesn't really like us."

"Funny, me get impression he just not like you."

"Well...I..."

"Grimbad told you not drink blood. Orc not eat flesh, but you greedy. You not agree Felmar?"

The Dark Elf starts at the mention of his name, but is not entirely surprised. He had been trying to sneak up on the old

Orc for weeks, but despite all his cunning and preternatural agility - Grimbad somehow always seems to know he is

there. Casually falling in step - making the pair a trio, Felmar turns to his friend and comrade with a smile -

"How do you do it? I know I didn't make any noise, I bathed in a semi-frozen lake only yesterday, and I've been upwind

since you left the tavern."

"Grimbad hear sound of someone not making noise. Sometimes that louder than even small sounds of forest. Someone

not making noise very good. Must be Felmar. What you learn?"

"I have learned that the Norsemen drink too much and sing out of tune."

"Did you learn anything helpful?" speaks up Melkor.

"That could be helpful. I'll certainly be keeping it in mind next time I'm out for a drink."

"What of Silverbeard?" asks Grimbad.

"It seems he was quite the local hero. Every man and his dog in that tavern has a story of him - though half are

probably made up, and the other embellished to the point of fairy tale."

"I quite like fairy tales." piped Melkor "They go really well when ground up and smoked in a pipe. Ride of my life that

was."

"Grimbad not understand you Elf-kind. Some things not joke."

"That Elf maiden is no joke, nor the Norsemen she consorts with. They speak of recapturing freed slaves, and it irks

me."

Grimbad bristles at the news, but Felmar continues unperturbed.

"I know not to which she refers, but they seek the Silverbeards killers, and most believe it to have been Orcs. Money

has changed hands, and they sharpen their blades for battle. If they come for us, we'd best hope they fight as badly as

they sing - though from the looks of the bearded one, I strongly doubt it."

"Best hope our Dwarf friend keeps bargain. Talk to others. Help look for real killers. Just to be safe, we best move

quick. Wake others. Be on move before sun come up."

Felmar nods in agreement, and the three companions pick up their pace, leaving the path and cutting through the

woods so as to leave fewer tracks in the freshly fallen snow...

Janus Aurelius, Human - “The Void Walker”. Edit

Like a cold gust of wind, the ragged stranger slips by the taverns patrons and out into the street unnoticed. The

combination of wet mud and snow crunches underfoot, and fresh smells about the air filled his nostrils.

As he walks he thinks to himself.

"They see not what looms in the dark, waiting to play its own hand. I see them plotting revenge for fallen heroes,

brothers and sisters alike. Yet they fail to see the dark and troubling times ahead that they may require the assistance

of their kin-kind. Evil cares not who killed whom, and who must pay the price. It will come for them all. I will see

what I can do to remedy this. They must be warned".

The stranger heads to the firelight of a camp far on the outskirts. It's ragged banner flies, but it is a small gathering. A

lone green-skin sits by the fire.

"May i join you by the warmth of your fire Brother?"

He joins the Orc by the fireside without wainting for a response. The Orc is startled, and confused at the lack of

aggression shown by this ragged stranger. The hooded man, wrapped in a ragged clothed speaks but few words to the

Orc.

"I thank you brother." he says, and then simply; "They are coming."

"Wha'd you say?" grunts the Orc in his crude speech, but the stranger has already vanished. In the distance a white

clad Paladin strides toward the camp.

Ceartas, Human – Paladin. Edit

The young Paladin slowly ascended the steep hill surrounding the small town, and wondered why this settlement is so

peaceful. Several days earlier he had found a small band of Karak's men, or at least Dwarves who disliked these 'Chain

Breakers', and yet here they were undefended.

Reaching the peak of the hill, he looked down into the Chain Breaker camp with disgust. Uncivilised and lawless -

they brawled among themselves for sport, and Caertas could not bring himself to more closely scrutinise the

suspicious meat that burned on their camp-fires.

As he strides silently into the camp, all eyes rest on the glowing white the cape he wears on his back as it sways in the

bitter winds, but the Orcish rabble allow the young man to pass unchallenged. Alone and with his weapon sheathed

he does not appear to be a threat - but as he passes, he gathers a quite a crowd of followers none-the-less, and many

of them brandishing cruel looking blades, or vicious spiked cudgels.

Reaching the centre of the camp, Caertas stops in front of the larger of several tents. It looks to have been roughly

raised, bedecked in crudely spattered paint with symbols of a language he does not understand, and adorned with the

skulls of many creatures.

"In the light of gods and Men, I demand to see your 'leader'!" the Paladin shouts, and drops to the ground a cluster of

green objects. The gathered assembly watches in awe as the severed heads of three fallen Orcs roll slowly down the

hill towards the crowd.

Despite the thrill and murmur that pulses through the Chain Breakers – no answer from the command tent is

forthcoming. He turns to address the fearsome crowd that has begun to encroach around him;

"These Orcs, be they guilty or not - were lying dead beside the bodies of a group of Dwarves – murdered and stripped

of their belongings not far from here.”

He eyes the group, allowing the statement to sink in and tries to gauge their reactions. Seeing little but hatred in the

dull eyes of the Orcs around him, he continues.

“Now as it seems, I could have walked by without a care, but I noticed something awry.” He reaches into a sack, tied to

his belt, and holds aloft the severed head of a Dwarven warrior. Hanging from his fingers clutched in its long hair –

the dead eyes of the Dwarf stare with blank accusation at the assemblage, and a ragged, open wound can be seen

above the decapitating cut – apparently made by a small, sharp blade.

“These dwarves had been sacrificed to some twisted god!” he casts a sweeping gesture over the Orc heads at their feet

“And you may wish to realise the same was done to your comrades!" Ceatas throws the bearded Dwarven head to land

among those of the Orcs.

"Compare the necks of both Orc and Dwarf. You will find they have identical slices to the throat. I come here not to

make war, or to anger you.” he raises his hands in gesture of non-aggression. “I come here only to tell you that either

there is a traitor among you, or there is a force larger than even our combined might acting against us."

Caertas step back as the Orcs take in the words he has spoken. Still with his hands in the air, he looks for a way to

escape. Turning to his left, he finds himself staring, eye to eye with Grimbad – the unofficial “Captain” of the rag-tag

band. By his side stands another – an Elf; Dark of hair and pale of skin. The Paladin feels a shiver run up his holy

spine just to look at him. Casting his eyes about the group, Caertas notices for the first time that these “Chain

Breakers” are not just Orcs – but a conglomerate of many races. Trolls, Elves, Orc... and a singular presence that

disturbed him in a way that he has not felt in all his career, even more so than the manic looking Elf.

Caertas casts his eyes around, looking for the source of this disturbance, but a warning grunt from Grimbad draws his

attention. The grizzled commander eyes him sharply, and indicates that it is time for the young knight to leave. Seeing

the restless looks from the group as they begin to lose interest in the pile of heads in front of them, Caertas silently

agrees, and makes his exit, swiftly and silently into the woods from whence he came.

Grimbad, Orc – The Chain Breakers Edit

Grimbad watches in brooding silence as the white cloaked stranger disappeares into the darkness. It had been a long,

long night.

Approaching the severed heads, Grimbad kneels down, breathing in the scent of steadily encroaching decay. Ignoring

the hunger that gnaws at his gut, he focuses instead on a strange, bitter smell underlying the necrotising flesh.

Sorcery! He'd smelled enough of it in captivity, more in freedom.

Grimbad casts a glance back to Melkor, considering the dark elf carefully. The shadow lover was known for this sort

of thing, yet Grimbad could not reconcile his proven ally and the sorcerous taint. Melkor was a deviant devotee to his

Goddess, yes... but he was no true sorcerer, not to Grimbad's mind. Also, he knew better than to truly take his blades to

a Chainbreaker.

Following a step behind and to the left of Grimbad - Melkor gives pause at the pile of gore when he notices that all

the throats have been slit. Anger flashes across his face, but is swiftly replaced by a look of calm detachment as the Elf

regains control of his tempers. Melkor remembers every sacrifice he ever made, and these Orcs are not his. He does,

however recognise a single Dwarf.

Grimbad, satisfied that he has learned all he can by scent, examines the orc faces. With a huff, he confirms his

suspicions, and tosses the head casually aside. These orcs are not of his warband. Small in numbers as they were,

Grimbad glances around the camp, estimating that any missing are likely on patrol, or relieving themselves of waste

in the woods nearby.

These Orcs were not his friends. These were strangers to him. Perhaps a message. Perhaps not.

Every fibre of his being shouts at Grimbad to rage and destroy, to hunt for the source of his irritation and confusion...

to kill it. He knows these thoughts for what they are; primitive instinct. With practised focus, he carefully sets them

aside. Orcs would never achieve anything if they don't stop to think. No one would. The blood lust can come later.

Grimbad stands, and turns to address the troops.

"Wake up and rise! Too many knowing us, finding us while camped. We moving deeper in wilds, maybe get sleep

there..."

He hauls several of the warband up from their bedrolls and places by the campfires personally, growling his serious

intent to those who drag their feet. Once moving, they would make decent time. The sun would soon rise, and a new

day would bring new problems... Grimbad is sure of it.

"Find stragglers too! We needing all blades! Lookouts to flanks, move out!"

Ealenore – Undead Witch - Chain Breakers. Edit

Ealenore slunk out of the trees at Grimbad's camp, carrying a few fist-sized purses of elegant looking fabric. The

group are packing up, and she notes Grimbad and Melkor huddled around a pile of severed heads. She sniffs at the

air, her nose wrinkling at the scent left by the young holy warrior. Approaching her two comrades, she speaks

directly into their minds via her telepathic link...

"I missed the righteous filth...?"

The pair jump at she shock of hearing her voice echo within their skulls without having first passed though their ears.

It is a sensation that neither of them have ever quite gotten used to. She hands a small purse to Grimbad.

"I retrieved these for us."

Lucien, Human - Wruenbane Edit

A robed figure enters the tavern and heads straight towards The Hammer, flanked by two hulking Orcs. Removing his

hat as he approaches, he reveals his face, and it bears a grim expression.

"Hendel, these two were paid to kill me and leave a chain upon my body. Fortunately, they were stupid enough to

knock at my door in the small hours of the morning."

He continued, "They are targeting members of our clan, those of some reputation. You need to get word out, safety is

becoming a foreign word. Grimbad has already taken out a group of Silverbeard's young followers attempting to

avenge his death.”

He turns to the bartender, a smile replacing his frown, "Just some water today, dear, I'll need my wits about me."

"Blood is going to be spilled, this will not stop until war has begun.” he continued, turning back to The Hammer.

“Grimbad may not know that he is being framed and the extent to which it is happening. I intend to deliver his

'friends' to him with news.”

"Keep the recruits in check, we can't risk someone taking it upon themselves to avenge Karak or those overeager

dwarves. These two said their hirer was a shadowy figure and gave them this," he pulls out a heavy sack and drops it

on the bar, the gentle sound of gold coins clinking together inside unmistakable, "as down payment."

The bartender hands Lucien his glass of water and he downs it as he would his first ale of the night. "I leave now

Hendel, be careful, my friend."

Ascending the hill towards the Chain Breakers camp, Lucien begins speaking in an arcane tongue and weaving

symbols with his hands in the air, collecting ingredients from his pouch and throwing them at the ground walking

through the smoke that is created. He turns to his thralls and chuckles "Just some protective wards, can never be too

careful."

He enters the camp, taking in the Grimbad's band. Orcs, trolls... Was that a giant? He placed his hand into his pouch

for a brief second before thinking better of it.

He knows he is drawing the attention of the entire camp as he walks toward its centre. Members of the Chain

Breakers have already begun circling him, closing him in. The fear that he feels rises with each step. Beads of sweat

form on his forehead, but he presses on.

Reaching the central tent, Lucien is greeted by Zorg with a shout:

"Puny magic man, what you want?!"

"I'm here to see Grimbad. I have dire news, and a gift" Lucien replies.

"Zorg think puny magic man make great ball. Only needs to be smooshed into ball!" Zorg roars, advancing towards

Lucien.

"Zorg, is enough!" Grimbad shouts. The orc stopps as another emergs from the tent.

"Ah mast- I mean Grimbad, I am Lucien, you may have heard of me. A simple advisor to the Wruenbane clan. I have

dire news." Lucien begins.

Grimbad sniffs the air. "I smells magic. On you. And on Orcs. What you do to them? Why they follow your orders!!!"

He roars.

"Precautions. All precautions. These Orcs tried to kill me. Do you know them?" Lucien queries.

"You answer questions first! Precautions is not answer!" Grimbad seems to be getting angrier.

"I have some protective wards upon me. Nothing to cause harm. These too are ensorcelled. I had to protect myself you

see. They were trying to kill me - and frame you for it. Here is the chain they bore. They were paid. Do you know

them?" He asks firmly, hoping to hide his fear behind bravado.

"I smell you is scared. You know I hate masters. But if you was saving your life, maybe acceptable. I do not know Orcs

with you. I want to question them. You give them to me and you leave alive, Lucien of Wruenbane."

"As was my intention, Grimbad. Someone wants us fighting. I want you to know that I don't want conflict between our

clans."

Lucien bows and leaves the camp, breathing a sigh of relief as he reaches the camps perimeter, then breaks into a run

to put as much distance between him and the Chainbreakers – just as a “precaution”.

Melkor, Dark Elf – The Chain Breakers Edit

Returning from scouting the perimeter of the Chain Breakers camp, Melkor yells:

"Wake up! Pack up ya lazy dogs! We move out! Our location is compromised."

Melkor approaches a still sleeping Orc who still wears his war helm, and reeks of booze. Taking up a small metal bar,

he taps on the helm like a bell. Coming to, the Orc growls at the rude awakening, and flails his arms about like a man

who has just dropped a bees nest at his feet. Melkor looks him dead in the eyes with a stare that could chill the bones

of a Bug-Bear and grabs him by the shoulder. He pulling the Orc to his feet, rasping and growling;

"This is why we don't drink heavily! Our numbers are too small! We move out immediately. If you fall behind, you get

left behind, now MOVE!"

Grimbad, distrustful of the ensorcelled orcs, orders them bound and gagged. The captives would slow them down, but

not much. They would need time for the spell to wear off before the questioning could begin; best to keep moving,

and avoid more complications.

Walking over to a small tent on the outer ring of the camp-fire circle, Grimbad thrusts aside the flap, and sticks his

head inside.

"Come Mog" he says, a little less abruptly than he speaks to the others. Grimbad knows the young Orc needs coaxing

and encouragement; her personality almost the polar opposite of a true Orc. In the short time she had been with their

crew, Grimbad had noticed that she scares easily, and will only draw her weapon if one of her newly found family

members is in danger.

Mog notes the look on Grimbad's face, and immediately starts collecting her belongings as fast as she can. She takes

her curved Katana sword from it's carefully hidden spot, and wraps it up with the rest of her things.

"Guess I'll be needing this after all" she thinks.

Looking up from her packing, she sees that Grimbad still watches her. He looks at her weapon with a raised eyebrow.

She realises that up until this point, she had kept it hidden away from the rest of the warband – hoping to avoid

exactly this situation. Wrapping up the last of her things, she shoulders her pack, and shuffles past Grimbad on her

way out of the tent. She lowers her eyes as she passes him, and he makes no further comment for now. She knows

once they reach safety, she will have a lot of explaining to do.

The warband continued their preparations to leave, and having done so, stalk off in search of somewhere isolated,

somewhere private, somewhere safe.

Hendel Hammerfist, Dwarf - Wruenbane Edit

As Lucien departs the tavern Hendel sighs.. He looks at his two companions & says;

"Lad, lassie; we're out of time it seems. The Silverbeard was one of us. If you wish to avenge him, follow me".

He looks across to the bar, and mutters to the others to give him a minute. He makes his way to the Elvish lass behind

the bar. As he approaches Keladry, she looks up from her work. Hendel takes her soft Elven hands in his brutish

Dwarven fists, mustering what charm he can – which feels completely underwhelming when dealing with one so

fair.

"Lass, your time here is at an end. I was going to give you the time to come to the realisation yourself but events

conspire against us. Take your blades and your pack, then come join our companions at the table. We head to the

Wruenbane fortress, and you are to become one of us.".

Turning to leave, the Dwarf spies the figure seated at the bar. His eyes widen slightly, and he makes his way over.

"Hendel Hammerfist" he says, reaching out to shake the strangers hand.

“Eirlys.' she replies politely, taking the proffered hand.

“Lass, your search is at an end.” his words seem to stun her. She seems uncertain whether to wrap the Dwarf in a

sisterly embrace, or draw her weapon to protect herself. Her hand hovers somewhere in between, as yet undecided.

“Come with us, and all the questions you have swimming in your brain will be answered.” he adds sagely.

"You know?" mutters Eirlys under her breath, leaning conspiratorially down to meet the Dwarf at his height.

"Aye lass, I know” he replies “but it is your secret to share with the others, as and when you are comfortable to do so".

Hendels tilts his head to one side with a smile and offers her his arm.

"Life is to short for such worries lass, come & let your companions share the burden!” he says with a merry twinkle in

his eye...

Eirlys – The Wanderer Edit

As Eirlys takes Hendel’s hand, she feels the weight of his personality, his wisdom and his care for the land. She feels

that she instinctively wants to trust him. That in itself seems a warning, and she holds herself in check.

It is a glamorie, and a powerful one at that. But behind the faint spell of one naturally born to it, the wisdom and

strength of spirit were real. She had been spurned by humans constantly, and yet here was a Dwarf offering his trust

without question. Eirlys can not do the same yet, at least not until she knows more of this dwarf - but if Hendel has

even the smallest piece of the knowledge she seeks, then she will follow him.

Taking his arm, she shares his smile. “Lead on Master Hammerfist.”

The Unnamed Rogue Edit

The rogue grows anxious, this is not how she expected to go about business. Yet, as always, she must play with the

hand that Fate deals. Turning to the giant Northman with a sigh, she state that perhaps it would be wise for her to

follow the dwarf. Her task involves much more than mere vengeance. He grunts an “Aye” into the depth of his mug,

neither here nor there.

"You are most welcome to accompany me on my travels.” she says “Far more gold and glory is to be had on the road

than in this hovel."

Sliding from the old oak table, the Rogue makes her way over to the Elven lass. The barkeeps objection to her entry to

the kitchens is silenced at dagger point. A dark stain travels down the fabric of his trousers, the fool had pissed

himself in fright. Stepping back from the encroaching puddle of urine upon the floor, she motions for him to leave. In

his blind panic, he slips upon his own filth, knocking himself senseless on the counter as he falls.

The commotion had not gone unnoticed, the Rogue drawing a sharp breath at the touch of cold steel on her throat.

"State your business sneak-thief", she hisses. The nights events had brought a well tamed rage bubbling to the surface.

“Why must I always end at blade-point when I follow the righteous path?” the Rogue mutters under her breath.

The Elf responds by allowing her blade to bite into the soft flesh under the girls neck, and a tiny rivulet of crimson

stains her steel. The Rogue throws her hands up in surrender.

"I come not to harm you nor take back my coin, merely to ask for assistance." she cries in exasperation, looking

imploringly into the Elf's eyes via the reflection of the mirror mounted behind the bar. Keladry merely raises an

eyebrow, beckoning her to continue.

"There is more to Karrak's passing than many know” she adds “... and you wield a blade uncommonly well for a simple

kitchen hand.” Looking dejectedly at the floor, she wonders what has become of her friend – the Barbarian. “It is

imperative that I seek out the last of the Nal Drog, and I require as many able hands as I can muster."

"If there is to be more coin such as what you've provided, I'm sure that the dwarf would not mind an extra

companion.” says Keladry, lowering her blade and allowing a wry smile to creep onto her lips for the first time in

their exchange. Relief sweeps across the face of the Rogue, and she returns the smirk.

"And plenty gold there shall be!" she grasps the hand of her new friend warmly, praying that the Nal Drog is as

stubborn in survival as his mentor.

The Green Clad Dwarf - Edit

The heavy door slams open, allowing the cold of night to seep into the bustling tavern. Two figures peer through the

darkness, one draped in a soaking green cloak that disguises his figure, and to his right; a smaller stout man bearing

an encumbering axe. If anything on this world was evil and sinister it was this axe. The tavern falls quiet as his

booming voice fills the tavern.

"So I was sitting in some bar in the middle of nowhere, when this bear of a woman told me I had to leave! I was havin'

none o' that, so - drunk as I was I started throwing obscenities at her. Now, when I actually looked her in the face all I

can remember seeing was a bear that resembled me mother - or was it me mother that resembled a bear? So movin'

on, I got the fright o' me life and threw the strongest, and yet the worst punch I ad ever thrown in me blimey life. Now

all I can remember is she fought back. I imagine that can be me new title: 'The Bear Battler'. So I wake up in some

gloomy forest, and when I eventually find the nearest bar I'm told I'm in 'Elgardt'. I thought I was in bloody Khas

Wuudaen!"

"If that's what you want to tell people, so be it 'Bear Battler'" laughes the second stranger.

Realising the commotion he has caused, the self proclaimed bear battler apologises. He is met by the voice of a she Elf

calling out over his.

"There'll be no fighting in here." she says with finality, fingering the hilt of a razor sharp sword at her side.

"Unless you start causing a commotion!" The Dwarf standing next to her adds.

"I can guarantee that my lady.” the green draped man assures the pair. “But I do have a question; why is there a fool

drenched in piss on your floor?"

Eilidh, The Girl from out of Town. Edit

Not a regular here, Eilidh had huddled over her meal in a quiet spot in the tavern. She had been in Elgardt but a few

days, hoping to find someone to teach her to fight so she could protect her family and herself. Although she kept to

herself, Eilidh couldn't help but overhear other people's conversations. One name in particular had been thrown

around a lot that evening; Karak Silverbeard. A name she would never forget, purely because everyone spoke so oft of

him. It seemed he was highly regarded by all in Elgardt.

A great Norseman was causing a commotion on the other side of the tavern. Silverbeard again, was the cause. "By the

gods, whoever has taken such a fine dwarf from this world will feel the vengeance of my steel!" Eilidh tensed up. Was

a brawl about to break loose in the middle of this tavern? But she could relax, for the Norseman had been joined by

two companions, and all seemed to calm down again quickly.

Eilidh finished her meal, she would leave soon. But then the man stood up again and began to speak to all the Tavern.

"Who here knows 'The War Horns of Elgardt?'" he yelled, and was met by positive response from the crowd. Eilidh

moved to the door, but was intrigued, and remained to hear the rest of the song. What a strange place, she thought to

herself as others began to join in. This would never happen in her home town. War had already struck there, and if

anyone ate outside their own home, they ate in silence. Here everyone joined in song, some drumming their hands on

the tables, some singing along quietly, others still making remarks about Silverbeard. She smiled. When the Norseman

finished his song people applauded, and Eilidh quietly slipped from the tavern, passing a dark haired lady as she

entered the cold night air.

Just outside the tavern, a dwarf and an old man were having a quarrel, and a third party member stood by. Slightly

startled, she thought it best to continue to keep to herself tonight, and quickly moved away. Eilidh tried to recall the

tune of the song. She walked at a brisk pace, reminding herself that time was short, she couldn't keep observing and

trying to stay out of conflict. If you want to make allies you have to help them fight their wars. So she decided that

when the sun rose, she would have to make some acquaintances, and pick up pace with her task. But for now, fuelled

by the excitement of her new environment, she would spend the early hours of the morning wandering the

surrounding area, humming "The Warhorns of Elgardt" to herself, and waiting for the sunrise.

Keladry, Elf – A Bar-Maid. Edit

She looks at Otto, splayed out and stinking on the floor, then back up into the eyes of the thief. Her wry smile fills

Keladry with excitement, mingled with fear. Looking across the bar, Hendel grins at her. The dark haired lady is

looking at him with the spark of friendship behind her eyes. When I catch her gaze, she nods to me also. I sheathe my

knife after wiping it clear of the thief girls blood.

"One last thing..." she mutters, and climbs up onto the bar. The one who calls himself 'Bear Battler' greets her with a

'wolf whistle' when she stands on her skirt and nearly topples on top of Hendel. She steadies herself on the low roof

and calls for silence.

"Hey!" a few heads turn.

"HEY!"

She tries to meet the eyes of every man there. They all know her. More than a few had earned a smack from her

before, and she had listened to most of their woes from across the bar for two years now.

"Friends, I am leaving. I go to fight the threat that rears its head in Elgardt," her stomach is full of butterflies, and she

can't believe she is doing this; standing there with every eye on her, but she has to say it.

"We must work together. The slaves MUST be freed. Think on how you have treated them, and of how they will turn

on you if they are freed by blood."

Angry mutters are race around the bar. She sees two slavers jump to their feet, hands on their swords.

The smell of burning hits her suddenly and she begins to sway. 'What is I doing?' she thinks. 'I just painted a target on

my back, and it glows like the new moon!

Vharik rises ponderously from his chair. Up and up towards the ceiling he goes, until he towers over the men. He

moves and stands in front of Keladry, and she steadies herself on his shoulder. Half his size but just as dangerous,

Hendel and the fierce warrior lady stand with him.

Keladry tries to stand taller, swallowing her fear.

"Free them! Give them their freedom, and they will fight with you. Or stand alone." she says with finality.

With that, the Elf finds that she has run out of puff. She slides down the bar, and would land in a heap if the thief did

not steady her. She really must ask her name. Keladry grabs her swords and bag from their hiding place behind the

bar, and pokes the kitchen boy.

"Tell Otto I've gone. And get some ice on his head!"

And she walks out the door; sword gleaming brightly in her hands. She does not look back until she is well down the

road, and instead of the tavern - she sees her new companions.

Vharik starts humming 'The Warhorns of Elgardt', and Hendel joins in. They are on their way.

Epilogue – A Foreboding of Shadow... Edit

The Necromancer

The Necromancer watched the figure make his way through the graveyard, Nervousnesses obvious in the way he kept

stopping and casting furtive glances around. The figure stopped at the meeting point, in the shadow of the largest

Necropolis. Enjoying the fear evident in the person he was due to meet, he drew out revelling himself for a full 10

count, using the time to briefly touch minds with the guards he had scattered in the area. All clear, and if he left it

much longer, his meeting may come to an abrupt end, with his partner bolting from fear. Stepping into the pale

yellow light of the torch spluttering in the hands of his visitor, The Necromancer, in a moment of self indulgence,

drew on the essence of The Maw that dwelt within his soul, and used it to turn the flame of the torch an Erie green... A

trivial amusement, but one that had the desired effect... The figure dropped the torch, yelling a started cry, and made

to flee.... With a flicker of annoyance, The Necromancer channelled that same essence into the ground, animating the

dead flesh he has scattered earlier. Cold dead hands opened and closed, Grabbing the fleeing man and holding him

fast. “going so soon”? He asked, his voice sounding slightly amused. The man jumped, never quite able to get used to

how....normal the voice was....shouldn’t monsters SOUND like monsters? “I...I...you...I mean...” “no mater” The

Necromancer cut him off ”you wanted to see me?” The man gulped, fear quickening his tongue. “ yes! I mean, he's

dead, Karak, the Dwarf, and looks like the Orcs and Dwarves are going to war over it! And Vampires keep attacking,

turning whole villages... Did YOU, I mean are YOU behind this? “ Inwardly, The Necromancer sighed. It was always

the same. He could not STAND the living. The Dead, they were easy to understand. The living...well. They babbled. He

HATED babbling. “ I DID tell you there was bound to be....events. That opened up opportunity. You wish to have your

Bride, yes? And for her to be...pliable? Willing even? And for her beauty to never fade?” the man swallowed, a

disgusting look of lust crossing his face... Gods, he hated the living.... “Then we must accept some....unpleasantness. She

will travel soon, and there will be a tragic, and deadly, attack. Bandits, you understand. Her guards will die to the man

defending her, and she will be wounded...but recover...and when she does, she will realise she was wrong to spurn

you...that she loves you.... and all you need to, is the one little task I ask....UNDERSTAND?” the last word reverberated,

infused with some fell power, making the world seem sick, green and cloying.... The man managed a nod, even as he

felt his bile rise... “do...not..fail..me” The Necromancer whispered the last words, but somehow, this made them even

more terrifying.... the man fled, cursing himself for letting himself get drawn into this, but also knowing he would do

exactly as he was asked.....

The Necromancer leaned heavily on his staff... How he hated the living...vermin, with their short lives and

meaningless scurrying... He felt, rather than heard, Mortis, his chief Assassin move up beside him. “He thinks you

killed this dwarf everyone talks of, master....Did you?” Mortis asked, cocking his head to one side, and regarding The

necromancer with cold, dead eyes. “ it suits me that he thinks so, my Living Death. One dead dwarf here, one dead orc

there, blame, guilt, and years of built up hatred, and what do we have? Chaos. War. DEATH. Who did or did not kill

one dwarf does not matter, what matters is who pulls the strings. What matters is, no matter the outcome, the Maw

profits. Let them kill each other. We shall push there, pull here, nudge where needed.... and when they have weakened

each other, we shall rise, A great tide of death, and sweep the living from the land! Then, only then, Will Elgardt know

peace.... the eternal peace of the grave!”

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