The Path of Kings

Feathers in the night

The light of the tallow candle flickered as the old druid flicked through the pages of the book. He squinted and ran his fingers over the words and shifted the blackroot between his teeth, savouring the taste as he chewed on it. He looked out into the night and sighed deeply.
“We have lingered too long already…”

He sharpened the quill with a knife, shoved aside the book and started writing fervently:

My Lady of Stonemark,
My dear friends,

I have left with great speed to look into matters that need looking into. I would have loved to elaborate these to you in person, but I had not the heart to wake any of you in the middle of the night after so gruesome an ordeal and I had even less heart to waste more time than I already have upon idle discussion.

Before you depart, look to the villagers of Lofield, they will have need of your council and presence for a few days while they recover from their losses. Also, I do not deem it wise to force any form of religion onto these people, but it is no less than logical that Desna is the one who should be appeased. However unwittingly the people of Lofield followed the Imposter, they have some atoning to do for their lack of resistance against this atrocious cult. Furthermore am I convinced that Desna will take them under her wings should they prove repentant.
It is of course up to the Lord of Lofield to make the final call in this, but I’m sure he’s a reasonable Dwarf.

With some luck and providence, I shall see you at the Land Diet.

Signed under the watchful Eye of Erastil,


He folded the letter up neatly and poured some wax from the candle onto the parchment. He pushed the tip of the quill into it several times, drawing a stylised version of his initials and finished it off by pushing the feathered end of the quill into the wax.

Emrys quickly grabbed his bag, put the book and the scroll into it and, before grabbing his staff and wide-brimmed hat, put the letter on the chimney.
He quietly left the building and made for the edge of town, looking back one last time before whistling lowly to summon his steed for the journey.

The horse appeared suddenly, almost out of thin air, its hooves shod in wisps of fog and its mane bright as the stars.
Emrys swiftly mounted the magical beast and urged it on in the old tongue:

“á tanalmë anwa ormë!”

The horse neighed, reared and shot off into the dark night.

From Brevoy (with love?)

Emrys looked out his window at the twilit city. The towers of Brevoy loomed like dark sentinels in the rain and his mind wandered as he stroked his beard.
“Rain, so much rain… It simply won’t do…”, he murmured at the sky and then returned to his writing desk, whispering the candles back to life.

He took up his quill and started a letter:
“My Lady of Stonemark,
My dear friends,

My nocturnal flight was not without reward and I look forward to the day of our reunion! There is much I would share with you that letters could not bear.

I write to you concerning two matters of some importance.

First and foremost, for the well being of the realm, I would urge you all to be at your best at Varn Hold. Do not play your cards too openly. Though it is a trait I greatly admire in the Dwarves, the politics of these lands are run on human laws, and they somewhat less direct in their dealings. Look to strengthen your hold on the Greenbelt and know how far you can go and look for allies as well, I feel we may need them before long.
I will ride out as soon as possible, but fear for my timely arrival.

Secondly, I hope that our good Lord of Lofield has shown great wisdom regarding the spiritual welfare of his realm. Though I do not doubt that both the Lord of the Woods and the Lord of the Forge would have greatly appreciated new followers, it is Desna that should rightly govern the hamlet. This being said, and my faith in Thorismund’s abilities unshakeable, I hereby announce my intention to stand down from my office as High Priest come Summer. I would be so bold as to suggest transferring the responsibility to the much more suited and aforementioned candidate.
Speaking of suited candidates, I have just the idea about who should take up the role of Warden of the Realm in Thorismund’s stead. Ivan has shown great worth in training the troops at the Trade Post and I believe there to be no man better suited for the task.
It might be a good idea to inform him of your decision before you leave for the Land Diet, we wouldn’t want to leave the realm ungoverned and unprotected in our absence, would we?

With the most affectionate greetings, I sign under the Watchful Eye of Erastil,


He then took a small roll of parchment and scribbled:

“_My dear Ivan,_
I hope this missive reaches the Trade Post in time and spares you the burden of the road. Would you be so kind as to deliver the adjoined letter to Lady Stonemark? Should she and her company have already left, I would be of deepest gratitude if you traveled after her to hand it over personally.

With the deepest affection,


_PS: Give my love to Kessle."

He tied the two notes together and walked out of his room and up to the top of the tower. The old man smiled as he saw the clear night sky and felt the fresh Spring wind liven up the night. He walked over to the hawk that sat perched on one of the battlements and cooed gently as he pulled a dead mouse from one of his many pockets.
“Thank you for waiting, my friend”, the druid whispered as the beast ruffled its feathers and eyed the dead meat. He stroked the proud bird’s back before tying its load to its paw, looking happily on as the bird devoured the small rodent.
“Good, that should give you strength.” Emrys picked up the hawk, whispered in its ear to take the message to Ivan Ivanovich and threw the bird up in the air.
“Fly, fly with all haste and put the fastest winds to shame!”

A letter from Milon to his mother

Dearest Mother,

Too many a moon has passed since my time spent at Restov, where I last found the time to send you any tidings on my travels, and I would make it a point to first send you my deepest regrets and sincerest apologies if this lack of news has caused you any worry or grief.

However, I also rejoice to inform you that I may well be on a path to find new and prosperous regions where our poverty-stricken people could find a peaceful home once more. Since my last scribblings to you, I have joined a band of adventurers in the service of the Rostland swordlords, sent out to explore and settle the Greenbelt, down south in the infamous Stolen Lands. First of all, however, allow me to briefly tell you about my journeys of the past months and this most noble band of outcasts I’ve been travelling with, for all of this constitutes a veritable odyssey of bravery, heroism and cunning, with much more supposedly still in store.

Rather long-winded account of every fight, encounter and important governing decision since the party’s departure from Restov, with a notable attention to Milon’s now being the lord of a small territory in the Greenbelt (important when keeping in mind: a- his goal of finding a new home for his clan, and b- his youthful arrogance)

The night after that last fight in Lofield, our cunning druid and spellcaster Emrys set off in the night on some mission of his own, promising to get back to us in due time at the Land Diet, which is drawing ever closer as I write this. The rest of us took care of some religious and political matters in Lofield, making sure that the goddess Desna would be appeased, appointing a new and trustworthy mayor, taking the three most radical surviving cultists with us to leave them as forced labourers at Belana Strongarm’s mine, and setting off to the west, stopping at Oleg’s trade post and Kesten’s River Camp before heading to Varnholt and ultimately to Restov.

Our stop at Oleg’s didn’t teach us much on the diplomatic front, apart from the obvious fact that profits from trade could be augmented a great deal by expanding the number of safe trade routes in our youngest of dominions, as the only route that can currently be relied upon is the one leading from Oleg’s to and from Restov. To be precise, a safe passage between our dominion and Maegar’s Varnholt could be of great commercial, political and military value. I cannot be entirely sure of what I’m about to write now, dearest mother, but I also couldn’t help suspecting that Oleg, who has been a most helpful ally so far, didn’t quite show us the back of his tongue in these political matters. However, he did inform us that Ivan had received another letter from his mysterious conniving patron, asking how we might vote at the Land Diet –which shows that someone in Brevoy other than the swordlords displays great interest in our endeavours-, and that Kesten had sent word of a most enigmatic elven figure awaiting our arrival at River Camp.

Arriving at Kesten’s recently built stronghold, we first cleared out some judicial issues and were then introduced to the elf in question, who turned out to be none other than Orodreth Heru-Luin, a paladin out of Mivon, a nation founded by fugitive swordlords in the days of the infernal Choral, damned be his name, to the south of the Greenbelt. Orodreth, as he told us himself, was sent out on a diplomatic mission on behalf of his lord councillor Resten Seline, to seek our assistance in two pressing matters that severely threaten the safety of his nation. First of all, it would seem that our dubious friend the Wolf Lord hasn’t exactly been sitting on his hands during our truce, since raiding parties of werewolves and feyish creatures have been attacking the northern borders of Mivon’s territory. Secondly, Pitax, a warlike nation to the southwestern border of the Greenbelt, reigned by some megalomaniacal nutcase whose name I didn’t quite catch, is threatening the fragile peace that is currently still maintained between his dominion and Mivon. Of course, at this time we are far from having the political and military influence required to be of great assistance in these matters, but as Orodreth was travelling to New Stetven for the Land Diet as well, he willingly accepted our proposal to travel there together. Who knows, he might yet be of great help in the building of our Lady of Stonemark’s youthful nation, fulfilling his own diplomatic mission at the same time.

What’s more, this recent companion of ours would soon have the occasion to prove his valour as a fighter, for when we arrived at Belana’s mine to drop off our prisoners (our last stop before heading off to Varnholt) it turned out that our dwarven friends were under attack by about a hundred blue creatures about the same size as me, and who put up one hell of a fight when we charged at them. With great help from Orodreth, whose skill as a two-handed swordsman I can only admire after this battle, we managed to slay a great deal of these strangest of creatures, and while their leader, a druid-like human figure, escaped before we even had a chance to get near him, I did manage to capture at least one their survivors. It turned out that there had been skirmishes with these creatures before, Belana even told us she had an approximate idea of their hideout.

But enough of our battles for now, dearest Mother, for there are other pressing matters that urge me to write you this letter. Indeed, as you have read, we are on our way to New Stetven, where we should arrive in about ten days from now. It seems to me that this would be the right time to ask for a private interview with our Lady of Stonemark, in which I could broach the subject of rallying Halfling support for the Greenbelt cause. I am fairly sure that my companions would be open to the idea of welcoming our people in these lands that we are exploring. What’s more, I am convinced that our people’s very particular breed of ambush-warfare and our exploring expertise could come in more than handy in the many adventures that undoubtedly still await us in conquering the rest of these territories. However, I know as well as you do that you have at your disposal an invaluable amount of contacts among our clan’s peers in Brevoy. With this in mind, I would kindly ask you the favour of arranging a meeting with any of these people during my stay at New Stetven, at a time and place to be determined by them. I have no doubt that they will be able to find my whereabouts in an instant, and even less doubt that any Halfling would be more than willing to answer my call, if it were to openly receive your support.

The hour is getting late and morning will soon dawn upon our sleeping party. It is time for me to finish this letter and get it on its way. As always, I bid you to accept the expression of my enduring love for you, dearest Mother, and hope to hear back from you faster than I have seen fit to write to you.


The Road to Varnhold

Explored terrain is in color.
Governed terrain is marked by red boxes.
Known frontiers are marked by black boxes.

Greenbelt   nomen heights exploration edit

A storm is coming

Thorismund Shieldmark solemnly handed over his former armour and longhammer to Belana. She and her fellow dwarves had put up a stiff resistance against this swarm of twisted little creatures. Some might say that the timely arrival of his fellowship was a fortuitous turn of events, but the forgemaster knew that the Allfather had ways of mending time and space to the needs of his kin. As long as they were able putting it to good use. The heaps of vanquished enemies outside probably sufficed as testimony to that.

The flickering light of torches seemed to make his breastplate’s sigil glow in these mine halls. Two hammers crossed over an anvil. Thorismund had spent many an hour over his forge in the past few days. The amount of labour put into crafting an entire set of full plate was a reward in its own right. Far more earnest than the plotting and scheming that possessed his companions. They say dwarves are greedy. They say they have little compassion. Yet these racial clichés floundered in comparison with the new direction the party had chosen for The Stolen Lands.

The first thing his companions decided, after having relieved the folks of the riverlands from the clutches of the wolf lord, was pummelling them with heavy taxes. Were they blind? Thorismund appreciated the need for hierarchy and structure in this forsaken realm. But its inhabitants had lived their lives in precarious freedom, surviving on the rewards of their daily toil. Now suddenly they were asked to hand over its major share. The dwarf felt compelled to take one of these villages under his custody and personally supervised its rebuilding after a most unnatural disaster. But he could not help noticing the first signs of fomenting resentment among these people.

He did not like how things were turning lately. Hegelinde made no secret of flaunting her royal aspirations, whilst their mission was to only secure these lands for the Sword Lords. Allegiance seemed to mean very little. The druid had been nudging things here and whispering to people there. One night they found him gone. Off to pursue his own agenda, but not without leaving instructions coated in the thin veil of advice. No, it did not bode well. Before he could return to the forge he had to make his own arrangements.

Thorismund shook Belana’s hand and embraced her, while whispering in her ear: “Give this note to Kesten. Nobody must know.”

Into the Mountains!

They had ridden for almost a week and the mountain range that had been a dark line on the horizon now loomed up ominously before them.
His companions kept surprising the Elf. The informality of their interaction with each other did not rhyme with the offices they held. It was clear that their bonds of friendship had been forged on the road and in the fires of daring adventure. He smiled inwardly as he thought of how they’d act at the Land Diet.

Before long, their path began to climb and the river Crook dwindled to a mere ribbon in the deep gorge below. With twilight upon them the Companions finally arrived at the fortified mountain settlement demarcating the border of the Stonemark and the Nomen Province.

The welcome was less hearty than expected and Captain Dragoneye, a fierce dwarf and the war leader of the region, soon explained the reason for the state of arms the settlement was under. The outer ore mines had been suffering from Orc raids. Despite the militia’s competence to deal with such minor aggressions, the captain told them they’d had to call in reinforcements from Varn Hold. The raiders were not just a wandering Orc pack, but a breed of ferocious, gigantic Orcs, led by an evil will and seemingly for the sole purpose of driving the settlers from the mountains.

The captain was insistent that the party travel on by daybreak, as to not miss their appointment with Governor Maegar Varn. Guest quarters were offered and eagerly put to use. Orodreth quickly went into a meditative trance, urged on by a feeling of foreboding, while the tasty stout imported from Varn Hold was savoured by the more vertically challenged of the party.

Awaking from his slumber around midnight, the Elf had barely time to don his armour before noticing a flowery fragrance that was not his own. He rushed out to investigate, only to be overcome by an almost solid fog. The sounds of a skirmish were barely audible, but Orodreth quickly sounded the alarm, rousing the sleeping defenders of the town just in time to prevent a massacre. The ferocious Orcs had crept into the town under cover of the fog and had begun slaying all that came across their path.

The party of Lady Stonemark rushes to the cries battle coming from the Mead Hall, while the Paladin made for the settlement’s bell to call the village to arms. A brief but intense skirmish ensued, but when the gigantic Orc chieftain was slain by combined effort of flame, hammer and sword, the fog lifted and the remaining Orcs fled.
Casualties were severe and half the defenders of the town lay dead and broken, hewn apart by the vicious assault.
Their was no doubt in Orodreth’s mind that their delayed arrival was caused by Divine Will and he praised Calistria as he wiped the foul blood off his blade.

The next morning, prayers to Thorag were said in honour of the dead and the journey continued on to Varn Hold.

The brave heroes had noticed a dark figure following them for some days and although there was no trace of him when the party left the mountain pass, the Elf’s keen senses allowed him to notice a raven that had been following them.
The creature tried to listen in on the parley with Maegar Varn, but the party quickly moved against it, much to the surprise of Governor Varn.
A clumsy attempt to capture the raven allowed it to flee, but a well-aimed arrow, a testament to Milon’s marksmanship, went straight through it, revealing the beast’s magical nature.

Shadows and doubts.

The raven bothered him. Not as much the fact that he hadn’t been able to capture it, for his shot could hardly have been any better, but because this was the second time in a matter of days that the young Halfling was confronted with the fact that their goings were followed more closely than they might like, by people whose identities and interests in their cause were all too unknown for his liking. Having been born and raised in a climate of constant suspicion and unknown threats, the thought of being spied upon brought back more than one unpleasant memory.

“Brave and valiant as my companions might be, they are ill-suited when it comes to dealing with foes who have mastered the art of disappearing in broad daylight. It is vital that I talk to them about calling out to my kin as soon as possible, and convince them that the fate of the Stonemark may well be decided on one more front than just the battlefield and the negotiating table. No war has ever been won without the support of those willing to battle it out in the shadows, outside the history books.”

There was, however, another problem that came to mind, one that he had only gradually become aware of in the course of the past months. He himself had set out with one clear goal in mind: to find a safe new home for his troubled people, blindly convinced as he was by his upbringing that no other race on the surface of the earth today had had to deal with persecutions that were even remotely similar to what Halflings had suffered through over the course of the last centuries. Now however, having fought alongside dwarves and a half-orc, having gained a growing respect for their skill and courage, and having seen the ungrateful circumstances in which the humans in the settlements in the Stolen Lands were forced to make a living, Milon was no longer convinced that justice, or lack thereof, was divided out by race. The question was to know whether other Halflings, who might have had to suffer through a great deal more in their lifetime than he could ever imagine, would be able to accept this realization…

At this moment, his ponderings were brusquely interrupted by a ticking on his window and a shrill caw. To his surprise, a small and obviously tired hawk had landed on his windowsill, carrying a small scroll on its neck. “I’ll be damned, there’s a bird I’d better not try to shoot,” Milon thought, and he opened his window to let the little messenger in. He untied the scroll from around its neck and unrolled it. The first thing he noticed as he started reading was a small drawing of a blue bellflower in the upper left corner.

“Well, mother, even after all our years together you continue to surprise me,” the young Halfling murmured to himself, suddenly smiling. Then, turning to the bird that stood waiting on his bed as if it were assessing him: “Best get you something to eat, little buddy. It’s good to know that there are people out there able to find us and whose intentions are beyond questioning.”

Milon picked up the falcon, gently stroked its neck and walked off to the kitchen with the little animal resting on his forearm.

Arriving in the kitchen, the Halfling threw the small parchment in the fire and watched as it crumbled down to ashes. “Whatever doubts I was having earlier,” he thought, “I guess we’ll find out about those soon enough.”


Sometimes the luck of the battle just turns against you. If you venture into icy mountains, you might run into a frost giant. If you run into a frost giant, you might die. It was tough, but it was simple. Milon liked that thought.

Thorismund had been a good companion during long horseback rides and a fearsome ally in any fight. All the more reason not to let his passing away be in vain. The halfling’s hunch to let the fearsome giant live turned out to be a good one, and the information he had given the party shed a whole new light on the story magistra Nadiya had been trying to sell them earlier.

He wasn’t hoping for much from a descendant of Choral the Cruel’s to begin with, and when they had met up with her in Varnhold, the magistra had wholeheartedly lived up to his expectations: arrogant and distrustful, she had made no secret of her contempt towards their party in general and him in particular.

She had told them some strange story about this mountain town and observatory called Skywatch, which had been enveloped in this exceptionally powerful and impenetrable magic sphere right around the time when the bulk of her family had mysteriously disappeared. Any attempt at getting through this sphere had supposedly resulted in cruel, fiery death for those who had tried. Still according to the magistra, Natala Surtova (a niece of our current regent) had hastily but temporarily disappeared at the same time. Apparently, this was enough for the current leading lady of the Rogarvia family to surmise a conspiracy against her and her relatives. There may well be truth in her speculations, but the party’s dealings with the magistra so far hadn’t exactly made her look as an innocent victim of circumstance either.

Offering her their help against their better judgment, they had teleported to the frosty heights of Skywatch together with the magistra to find out more about what had been going on there during recent years. At night, she had wandered off on some business of her own and literally vanished in thin air, leaving the young halfling, who had been following her in silence, startled.

After the party had set up camp in what seemed to be a ruined inn just outside the forcefield, lady Stonemark and Thorismund fatally agreed to take the first watch of the night. A fearsome blizzard arose while Milon and the rest of them were sleeping. When they were violently woken up by Hegelinde, it was all they could do to run out into the storm just in time to see their sturdy dwarven forgemaster slain by a fearsome giant and his wolf. Spurred on by Thorismund’s cruel demise, the rest of the party managed to chase away the beast and knock down its master.

Tied and gagged inside, the frost giant had seemed surprised to still be alive when he woke up hours later –little did he know, Hegelinde and Milon had only just managed to keep their companions from executing their mournful vengeance on him. However, his own suspicions toward them turned out to be more than justified when he told them his version of what had been going on at Skywatch during the past decade.

Almost as soon as the sphere had appeared around the city, a group of about twenty wizards had turned up to investigate its nature. The hostile weather conditions had soon forced them to give up their attempts, but one of them had kept coming back regularly, randomly slaughtering the giant’s tribe on her visits. This mage turned out to be none other than the magistra, whom the giant subsequently confirmed he had seen penetrate into the Skywatch sphere unharmed. This explained why Milon had lost track of her the previous evening, and where she had been off to.

The big friendly giant was let go. A funeral pyre was erected and Thorismund’s soul sent on to Thorag in keeping with his beliefs. Magistra Nadiya returned from her nightly excursion and offered a cool condolence. Did she know what had really happened during her absence?

They teleported away from Skywatch.

Seconds later, Milon finally found himself in New Stetven.

Down to business. Time to talk.

Stop me if you've heard this one before

A: “… until an elf, a dwarf, a gnome, a hobbit, a half-orc and a human teleported into the tent.”
B: “Is this a joke?”
A: “Maybe. If it weren’t for the human involved.”
B: “Ah, so a game of spot the odd one out then?”
A: “If that’s the case, where would that leave me as half-elf?”
B: “Beats me, didn’t you join their freak show?”
A: “Politics make strange bedfellows.”
B: “Well, as long as you’re not planning on bedding the Elf; he’s wearing fancier dress than most ladies here!”
A: “Crass, but I appreciate your candor.”
B: “You’re welcome, lad. So what’s the deal with that circus anyway?”
A: “That coin still hasn’t tilted. Either they’re the biggest bunch of fools to be prancing around here, or they might actually be the game-changer we’ve been waiting for.”
B: “I thought you avoided the company of fools?”
A: “Andoletta be good, aye. But as I said: it’s still undecided.”
B: “Sounds like you already made an assessment. Gimme some pro’s and con’s.”
A: “At least one of them knows what he’s doing. They have made contacts with several of the houses here and carry the favour of the Sword Lords. Besides, they actually managed to carve out a piece of the Stolen Lands, as complete outsiders, and throw back the Wolf Lord. That shows talent and organisation… “
B: “This is the point where you continue with either a ‘so’ or a ‘but’?”
A: “… but they seem to have no clue how this game is actually played. They want to get accepted as nobility, but show up on the most important aristocratic event of the decade without proper clothes and gear. They hadn’t even thought about designing any heraldry!”
B: “Yeah, that should’ve been a no-brainer. Anything else?”
A: “They might have had a chance of manoeuvring around smoothly, if it hadn’t been for the hobbit. Somehow, he managed luring all the hair-footed small-folk in the neighborhood to their tent. The guy might as well have started a revolution with his bar talks. So much for subtlety.”
B: “… so it is a joke after all!”
A: “Let’s be patient. I have waited a decade for this. And despite any misgivings I retain, they still are our best shot.”
B: “Well, I’d say tread softly and carry a big stick around. But you’ve got that already covered.”
A: “On that note, I shouldn’t tarry around any longer. That muppet Drelev will be expecting them soon.”
B: “On your way then, lad. Andoletta watch over ya.”
A: “And over you. Thanks for the talk.”
B: “No worries, we bastards have to look after one another. By the by, you really couldn’t come up with anything more original than ‘Aspar’?”
A: “Odd enough to be noticed, short enough to be forgotten.”
B: “You always were the clever one. Stay alert though.”
A: “There’s a reason why I’m still around after all these years. You’ll be hearing from me.”
B: “Well, as long as they don’t see y’…” – “Ha! Great party trick, appearing and disappearing like that. I can’t wait for the next session.”

Of Wolf and Man
Listen to them, the children of the night, what sweet music they make...

Akiros Mort nervously played with the pommel of his sword. They were all gathered at Highthrone, the leaders of the four werewolf tribes and the troll warlord. Standing close to him, his Master breathed calmly, studying those present.

First there was the towering troll, “general” Hargulka, as he now styled himself. The green-brown monster was fully clad in armor made from the bones of some fearsome beast. The giant leaned on his gruesome and ridiculously huge-sized morningstar, unimpressed by the werewolf packs assembled at the top of the tower of the defiled temple. Hargulka’s intelligent eyes crossed those of the fallen knight, and Akiros shivered involuntarily.

To the right of Hargulka, a red-haired woman was stroking the back of a wolf with crimson fur. This was Cybrisa Dorzhanev, the packlord – or rather lady – of the Broken Ones. She smiled at Akiros, in a hungry – but not entirely unpleasant – way. The Dorzhanev clan preferred to live close to human communities, where they could easily prey on farmers and travelers.

Next to her stood a group of five large brown dire wolves. Among them, the slender female wolf with a gray-brown fur was Kvalca Sain, mistress of the primeval Vollensag clan, and leader of all werewolves in the Greenbelt. Although over the years, the Vollensag were reduced in numbers, they remained the most ferocious and powerful clan among the Greenbelt’s werewolves.

Lastly, a werewolf in hybrid form, partly man, partly silver-furred wolf, leaned casually against one of the megaliths on the platform. Mathus Mordrinacht was the leader of the Silverhides, a group of powerful werewolves who normally preferred to lead a solitary life. Some Silverhides had even taken a habit of infiltrating and blending in human communities, secretively stalking their inhabitants. The charismatic Mordrinacht, however, had been able to unite these wolves for the time being.

Politely, Hargulka and the wolf lords waited until Kvalca Sain, howled, a sign for the meeting to commence. Reluctant to leave her wolf shape, the Vollensag leader spoke in a hoarse voice.

“At the call of our newest brothers and sisters, the Green Wolves, and the troll-general Hargulka, we have assembled at the Stairs of the Moon. We would like to ask the leader of the Green Wolves to be direct and speak his part.”

Akiros Mort’s Master stepped forward and bowed his head with respect to the gray-brown wolf.

“Mistress Sain, as you know, we Green Wolves have been hunting and expanding our territories by the grace of the Lady with the Green Hair, the Guardian of these lands. Together with our allies, the trolls of the southern Narlmarches, we are reclaiming the lands that have been taken by so-called civilization. The humanoids have driven us into hiding in the deepest of forests, compensating their lack of physical strength and will to power with their great numbers and organization. Whereas we once ruled the lands of the Greenbelt and beyond, striking fear in the hearts of those who consider themselves “civilized”, our proud and superior packs now have to stalk lone trappers and unwary travelers, as murders in the night. Our wild lands are tamed, are territories reduced. Others have suffered the same fate: the trolls of the southern Narlmarches, the Orcs of the northern Tors of Levinies, the Centaurs of the Nomen Heights, and so on.”

“But there is one power that has not abandoned us, a Guardian Spirit who once granted these lands her favor, encouraging the natural right of the strongest to rule, and the hunter to hunt. She is the Lady with the Green Hair, the Queen of the Wild, the Huntress for whom all living creatures are game. Although She has been imprisoned for centuries, She is making her way back to our world – already Her power is returning to these lands, seeping through its pores. Her dominion means the re-establishing of the natural order of things, for once and for all.”

“However, in order to prepare for Her reign, we need to prove ourselves worthy, and purify these lands from the touch of civilization. To the North, we Green Wolves, face a group of new settlers, the vanguard of Brevic civility; to the South, general Hargulka has been beleaguered by the Swordlord nation of Mivon; to the East, our Orc and Nomen brethren have been driven in the mountains and plains, respectively, because of the Brevic-Swordlord power of Varnhold; to the West, yet another Brevic agent is expanding his territory… Our existence itself is at stake because of these Brevic and Swordlord encroachments. But do not despair, my brethren! General Hargulka is organizing an army to crush our enemies once and for all! Let us join his forces and rid ourselves of this plague called civilization!”

At these words Cybrisa nodded and smiled and touched a locket hanging around her neck. Hargulka grunted and stamped his tree stump-sized foot as a sign of approval. Mathus Mordrinacht, however, barked in a mocking manner, and interrupted Akiros’ Master.

“Well, well. The fey pet opens its mouth, vomiting fancy butterflies. My brothers and sisters, before us we have a caricature of our kin, a human who became one of us through some arcane and unnatural ritual, who is only a pretender and a leader of degenerates, who plays the role of wolf-king among humans in his man-made fortress. How can we ever trust this wolfling, who continues to cultivate the vices of mankind, reproducing its weakness and softness? The Green Wolves are but troll lapdogs, who are, in turn, only eager to please their fey masters. If we ever start to cleanse this world from the hairless ones, we should start with these abominations.”

Mathus growled. The tension at the platform mounted; the night air was thick with blood thirst and murderous rage. Akiros’ hand clenched the grip of his sword. Hargulka, however, laughed slowly, his deep voice booming loudly.

“The Silverhides are quick to pick a fight, but equally eager to flee from all-out war. Whereas our Wolflord here is openly a ruler of men, the skulking Mordrinacht barely survive by anxiously stalking the weakest of prey. If they are too cowardly to fight for themselves and their brethren, they should leave now, with their tails between their legs.”

Mathus muscles twitched, and the manwolf would have jumped and bitten the throat of the troll warlord – or at least would have tried to, because it was impossible to say whether the speed and agility of the werewolf would be sufficient to overcome the troll’s superior strength and hardiness – if Kvalca Sain had not intervened by barking loudly and aggressively.

“This is a place of truce. Respect the Stairs of the Moon! Now, with regard to the topic at hand… We Vollensag do not favor this faerie Mistress. We bow only for the Moon and the great Wolf who will eat the world at the end of times. However, we agree that we should make a stand against these powers of civilization. Therefore, we will listen to General Hargulka, our troll guest, and we demand of you the same.”

Mathus bowed his head, but he clenched his claw-fist in a rejecting gesture. Hargulka shrugged his massive shoulders, and spoke:

“Clan Mordrinacht are good fighters, it would be a pity if we had to move without you. But we will, if we must. In any case, our plan is to secure our southern border by crushing Mivon’s armies. Around the same time, in the east, our Nomen Centaur brethren will launch an assault on Varnholt. Unfortunately, they won’t have the support of the Orcs, because their leader has been slain recently. In the west, we are negotiating an alliance with… other forces. However, before we move to the south, we have to make sure that the feeble group of settlers who set up camp in the northern Greenbelt don’t stab us in the back. Our Wolflord here has agreed upon a truce with the invaders, so they will be surprised by our sudden assault. In addition, his spies have confirmed that their leadership will be leaving their territory for a meeting in Brevoy. I suggest a small force of werewolves and trolls goes north, and destroys the newcomers’ settlements. This will temporarily safeguard our northern border with Brevoy, until the soft-skins organize a new expedition. In the meanwhile, we organize for a large force to invade Mivon…”

Akiros relaxed. The debate now turned to the preparation of the upcoming battle. The fallen knight was looking forward to lead his Masters’ human troops into the fray…


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