Jönköpings Finest

Into the Cave

1. Richfest 996 AF

Kharamon scouts the passage that leads into the mound. The tunnel was created recently, as some force create the passage. Gems are scattered in the tunnel surface and pulsate in a slow beat. Kharamon can feel a strange, earthen magic circling through the mound, resulting in cracks suddenly opening up, or sparks of light emanating from glowing veins that run through the stone.

After 20 minutes, he reaches a cavern. Several of the bandits have taken shelter here. Kharamon memorizes that outline of the cave and heads back to his friends. They chose the frontal assault approach and a heavy battle follows that eats away all of the powers of the heroes.

The heroes interrogate the two survivors of the bandits. They learn that only some of them have awakened, while the others waited to be initiated by they leader, who is currently deeper in the mound. It seems that they were all Old Blood, poor inhabitants of Alsyenna, who followed a call to gain power and rise in status and wealth.

The heroes take a short rest and head down further into the cave…

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Cleaning the Roads
... in which a child gets abducted

28. Wealsun 996 AF

Stor conjures an unseen servant that collects coins that have fallen down from the tables. Rurik follows an Oldblood who sneaked away into the corridor to the sleeping quarter, and drives him away as he wanted to break in into a room – the room of the Halfling. The Halfling – it appears that he is a scribe of House Sivillian, one of the blessed houses – is on his way to Brightstone to write contracts about land. The Halfling thanks and rewards the heroes and goes to sleep.

Rurik and Eddard talk with the Priest of Thyr – Jaffron – and gather some news. Jaffron is travelling the lands in search for a fellow cleric named Aidan. Aidan is the designated successor of the Highpriest of Thyr in Alsyenna, Bandalon. Both Aidan and Bandalon have a progressive understanding of the Faith, embracing diversity, and preaching peace and co-existence rather than orthodox purity. However, Lord Dunstan brought another cleric into town, a high-ranking priest of Thyr named Duncan, who aims to take over the leadership of the church. Unfortunately, Aidan vanished without a trace about a week ago. It would shape the character of the Church considerably when Duncan takes over the leadership. Bandalon is quite old, and the succession can take place any day. Jaffron set out to search for Aidan, but has no real plan than trusting Thyr. He asks the heroes if they have any information, but they can’t help the priest.

Next, the heroes talk with the two Children of Light. They look quite tired. It appears that Lord Dunstan has not enough soldiers under arms to keep the roads clean of robbers or other intruders, to the Children stepped in. However, there are more and more threats in the countryside, taxing their resources. In order to cover more ground, they had to split their patrols, resulting in very small groups. The Children heard about a group of bandits that prey on travelling settlers in a bridge down the road to Brightstone. The heroes offer their help and the group decides to travel together tomorrow at the first light.

1. Richfest 996 AF
After an early breakfast, the heroes join the Children of Light in their patrol. They head into the direction of Brightstone. The streets are mostly clear, only now and then facing some travelers on route to Alsyenna. And after two hours of uneventful travel, they meat a bloodied and beaten person – it’s the Innkeeper!
The group stops and interrogates the beaten-up Oldblood. He admits that he was attacked by a band of robbers at the bridge, but instead of just taking his money, they also took his son!
The Children move forward, but the heroes stay a bit longer as they realize that this was not the whole story.
“It was terrible”, sobs the innkeeper.
“They realized that my son is cursed, and they said that he will now join them. I tried to fight them, but I had no chance! Please help to free my son, we can’t let him fall into the hands of these abominations!”
The heroes agree and send him back to the inn.

After two more hours, the group arrives at the bridge. Kharamon investigates the site and finds signs of a recent fight. A trail of footprints lead south. After a while, the group arrives at a well that leads to a larger mound. A two-by-two meter opening yawns at the side of the mound and leads into its depths. A small bonfire burns in front of the entrance and provides heat for a simple roast. Four of the robbers – the same that the heroes encountered a day ago – sit around the campfire, enjoying some wine, and waiting for the roast to finish.

The heroes move in and attack. However, the robbers are tougher opponents than expected. Although clad in simple and worn gowns, and only equipped with simple armor and crude weapons, they give the heroes a hard time. They are also Awakened, and Earth Magic is infusing their body, making the strikes hard as stone and their skin resilient to blows. It takes the heroes a considerable amount of their power to bring them down.

Unfortunately, one Child of Light lost his life in Battle. Rurik prays for the sould of the fallen Soldier. The surviving Child is also in bad condition and takes his comrade back to Alsyenna.
The heroes take short rest and decide to explore the mound.

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On the road to Alsyenna

26. Wealsun 996 AF

The heroes have barely escaped the collapsing castle. The Children of Light take a short rest and then march to Alsyenna. Captain Martell

The heroes take the surviving servants to Brighstone whose loyal inhabitants take them in. Berryn, the Elder of Brighstone, shares some of the later developments. Varris Brighstone is a wanted person, being accused of killing two Children of Light during the battle at Brightstone’s market square where Bertrand Dunstan held court.

Recently, a few new settlers arrived at Brighstone and started building their home outside Brighstone. According to Berry, Lord Dunstan in Alsyenna hat called for a pilgrimage to Brighstone and given the promise of land to whomever makes the journey.

27. Wealsun 996 AF

The heroes start their journey to Alsyenna. Once in a while, they encounter small groups of poor people on their way to Brighstone. At nightfall, the heroes camp in the countryside

28. Wealsun 996 AF

Around midday, the heroes arrive at a bridge. A group of five people of the Old Blood have established a small toll point and demand a fare from a group of settlers that are on their way to Brightstone. The heroes quickly discover that the ruffians are taking advantage of the settlers, but convince them to let everyone pass. The ruffians point out that “it’s their time now”, and Kharamon and Stor also realize that the spark of magic has awoken in all of them. As the heroes and the settlers go their own ways, Eddard takes a last look over his shoulder and sees the ruffians abandon their post and follow the settlers.

At nightfall, the heroes arrive at an old inn. They manage to secure a sleeping place, and for the first time in a long while can relax. Rurik takes a relaxing bath, Eddard cleans his armor, Kharamon enterains the crowd with some of his songs and learns some new from a group of Vistani, and Stor earns some money in a game of dice.

The singing of the Kharamon and the travelling Sczarni light the mood in the inn an a lively evening ensues. Stor keeps a low profile and plays some games, while Rurik enjoys a good mug of ale. Kharamon realizes that a group of Oldblood tries to scam a travelling Halfling. Althoug they pretend to be independent travelers, they belong to the same group, getting the halfling drunk, but drinking only themselves only moderately.

Kharamon decides to interfere. He starts a lively tune and encourages the guests to form a line. moving through the inn to his tune. Kharamon leads the line to the gambling table and interrupts the game. The Oldblood are not amused and try to push back, but Kharamon loads his flute with a dose of the sneezing powder he captured in Brightstone Keep. He blasts the powder out of his flute and a chaos of laughter and sneezing follows.

Eddard realized that a travelling cleric of Thyr was observing the young son of the inn keeper. Apparently, the spark of magic has awoken in the young boy, and the cleric has realized it. Eddard takes the innkeeper outside and urges him to hide the boy and bring him to Bran, to train the boy’s mind to control the awaking magic.

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The battle at the oathstones

Full Rest

14. Wealsun 996 AF; Brighstone Castle

Stor, Kharamon, Rurik and Eddard headed to the central stairwell. Going upstairs, each step was getting harder, meeting increasing resistance with each flight of stairs. Finally, they can’t proceed anymore.

The heroes tapped into their magical powers, weaving them together and pressing through the boundary. They penetrated the barrier and were suddenly sucked into it. For a heartbeat there was nothing, then they felt like falling down and being shot to the top at the same time, and finally, as if they were diviing into water, they shot down into a flight of stairs, and reality was closing up again.

The heroes were in a large cave. A flight of stairs wound down to a large platform. Three Children of Light, forming a triangle, faced a large dragon. The leader of them – probably the Captain – pointed his longsword to the dragon. A glowing storm of light was emanating from his weapon, extending half-way to the dragon, and meeting a dark wave of energy that the dragon hurled at them. Midway, both energies met and the engergy-streams splattered like broken glass. A cleric and a war-mage formed the other points of the triangle, each in deep concentration, a hand laid on the shoulder of the captain. However, an eery silence embraced the whole scene, as none of them were moving – as if they where frozen in time.

The three Children were standing between two oath stones of a huge stone circle. The large stones shimmered in deep green. Stor recognized the material, as the older and deeper parts of the keep, which dated back to ancient times, were made from the same material.

Another circle, filled with dark-green ooze, edged around the oath stones. Three pools, each at the point of an isosceles triangle, filled the circle with further substance.

The heroes moved down the stairs and entered the platform. They felt a short resistence while leaving the stairs, and suddenly the whole scene started moving. The blast from the dragon vanished, and the three Children stumbled backwards.

A long battle ensued in which the dragon summoned several dragon wyrmlings. The heroes battled them back. However, the group suffered some casualties as the mage was slain by the breath attack of the dragon wyrmling.

As the dragon was getting hit over and over again by magic force and craftfully wielded blades, it was finally brought down to its needs. To the surprise of the heroes the dragon transformed into a heavely distorted elf whose shrill shreak nearly brought Eddard down. A banshee, an undead abberation driven by the will for revenge.

And finally, also the banshee was brought down. Taking a heavy strike from Kharamon, the banshee fell to the ground, transforming once more into. Stor realized with terror that it was now his mother who was laying on the ground. “Nooo”, he yelled, but it was too late. The Captain’s blade was already in motion, and the longsword impaled the frail body of Lady Brighstone. Stor rushed to his mother. She was barely breathing, the heavily wounded
body torn to shreds in many places.

“Don’t let…him… come back…my prince…ahhhhhhhh”, whispered the Lady, blood spurting out of her mouth. “Mother!”, cried Stor, as her head fell limp to the side and his mother exhaled her life with a last, long, rasping breath.

Stor continued to hold her head with his hands, tears bliding his view.

A rumble shook the platform.

“We better get going”, said the Captain, carefully watching the surrounding. “This whole place is unstable now.”

A new rumble shook the ground, first stones tumbled down from the ceiling.

mage dies

escaping, rurik unconscious

talk with Captain Martel

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The wealth of your ancestors
... in which the heroes learn that some cling to their wealth

13. Wealsun 996 AF; Brighstone Castle

After the battle with the unholy spirits, the heroes examine the room. The corridor in the north leads to another door. Someone has scribbled a sign on the door which Eddard and Rurik recognize as an invocation of Sorgor, the Saint of Protection.

“Someone tried to ward this door from these creatures”, Rurik whispers, and listens carefully to the soft chanting on the other side. “And they are reciting the Prayer to Thyr. Maybe some Children of Light?”

Stor enters his role of the castle’s noble again and announces himself. The doors opens, and he can see six Children of Light, weapons and shield ready to defend themselves. The Children realize that no harm will come from the heroes and relax. The sergeant of the team reluctantly shares their story, how they were tasked to secure this level, fought against the guards, and suddenly experienced a shock. He struggles to describes it, and the best he comes up with is a “tearing of reality”. After that, the spirits of the slain guards and fallen Children started to rise, and they barricaded themselves in this room.

“But what were your ordres? Why did you come to my castle in the first place?”, Stor follows up.

“Um…we… got the orders from our captain. He was supposed to put Lord and Lady Brightstone under attainder and bring them to Alsyenna for questioning. There was also talk about some old artifact, connected to Old Magic. But we were only following orders. "

“Do you know the whereabouts of my mother and father?”

“Well, your father… some took him and brought him to the coach, they were on their way leaving when this”, and he makes a vague gesture, "happened. “Your mother…she fled, we don’t know where she is.”

The heroes inquire about the rest of the basement. There are some prisoners in the cells, which the Children protected against the spirits. The heroes order the Children to take the prisoners and go to the first level and join with the staff in the kitchen.

Afters a short rest, theheroes then descend into the catacombs of the castle. The stairwell opens into a larger room, the center column and the walls made of the green stone, with golden sparks embedded. The heroes quickly find the old treasury, where two large chests with coins promise a substantial fortune.

The next room contains several sarcophagy, in which Stor’s ancestors have found their final rest. Stor examines the stone lids. Most of the names are know to him, although he never memorized the stories connected with these. However, he realizes that three sisters are buried here which found an untimely death, being accused of witchcraft and murder. Many stories revolve around Mathilda, Melanie and Maria, and while some stress their care and contribution to the Old Blood community, others stress them killing their husbands and performing forbidden magic.

The heroes open a sarcophagus to look for further treasure. Mathilda’s corpse is heavily decomposed. Her hands still hold a black wooden staff. As Stor graps it, Mathilda’s corpse rises to defend her property – and two more sarcophy lids move. The heroes fight a tough battle, but can overcome the three sisters.

A short search of the catacombs shows no more valuables, so the heroes grab the two treasure chests. As Stor moves the chest, he hears a voice in his mind: “Password?!”. He does not know the word and two statues animate and attack the heroes, but are defeated after a short battle.

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Bones of old
... in which Rurik develops a heretic theory

13. Wealsun 996 AF; Brighstone Castle
rest to recharge Stor???

Kharamons Scout
dead CoL
two halfblood, two CoL without armor and weapons
One crying and crushing a statue of Yiviel
battle, charms, all dead

Statue of Isamir, The godly Saint of Light, different style, quite personal, old statue, real mace.
something insie the dais
hidden compartment, old bone
Dwarven Mark on the mace

short rest, cleansing the chapel

fight with incorporeal undead, voices

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Near death
... in which the heroes learn to fear the CoL

11. Wealsun 996 AF; Brighstone Castle

Looting the lady#s chamber
long rest

12. Wealsun 996 AF; Brighstone Castle

Kharamon in captivitiy
Mage hunter
battle
reinforcements
Kharamon escapes, Stor and Eddard down, Rurik held
Rurik rules (heal, break free, attack)
final fight

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Meeting old acquaintances

11. Wealsun 996 AF; Brighstone Castle

The heroes went up on the north-eastern flight of stairs and entered the second floor. Bodies of two slain Brightstone guards – stabbed to death with the merciless precision of the Children of Light – and three dead Children of Light, who seemed to be smashed and clubbed to dead.

The corridor ended in a room. Two gargoyles – and the heroes suspected them to the gargoyles they encountered a few days ago on the plains – were standing guard there. As soon as they caught sight of Rurik, they marched forward. The heroes tried to negotiate a passageway, trying to convince the guardians that Rurik was “one of the good ones”, but the gargoyles approached Rurik with stone-like determination, ignoring the others. Finally, Kharamon cast invisibility on the cleric, who retreated to the first floor. The gargoyles stopped their advance and returned into their room.

Kharamon headed down to inform Rurik to meet at the western flight of stairs. The heroes tried to gather new information from the guardians.

In the room, there was another dead Child of Light. A brief examination showed that he was not smashed to death by the gargoyles, but stabbed in the back with a short dagger. Eddard recognized the soldiers as one of the mage guards, a protector of the war mages that the Children of Light employed. He further commented that their second task was to make sure that the mage was not overcome by the forces of magic, in which case he had to end the mage’s life.

one level up
gargoyles
Rurik invisible

Rurik headed downstairs and went to the eastern flight of stair, which was the main connection between the floors of the keep.
As the reached the second floor, he found a magic barrier blocking the path into the main part of the compound. The heroes were were already at the other side and poked at the barriers. Neither matter nor sound appeared to be able to pass.
Kharamon attuned with the barriers, but was not able to get in resonance with the magic structure. He suspected it to be a barrier that a mage erected to block entry – or exit – to the second floor. He and Stor could try to bend the streams of arcane energy that formed the barrier to create a passagway, but that would consume some of their prescious reserve of magic. They decided against it.

It appeared that the gargoyles were randomly patrolling the rooms and corridors that were open to them, but did not try to open doors. When they entered a distant part of the corridor, they signalled Rurik to come back through the north-eastern flight of stairs, and they managed to circumvent the gargoyles and lock them in the eastern part of the castle, while the heroes pushed further in the north-western part.

magic barrier
Locked doors and a battle with CoL

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Trapped in Brightstone Castle
... in which the heroes learn about the corruptive taint of magic

10. Wealsun 996 AF; Brighstone Castle

After the heroes entered the kitchen, the passageway shifts away with a sucking sound. The heroes serached the kitchen for supplies and managed to manufacture some molotov-cocktails.

Cautioulsy, they started to explore the first floor of the keep. Stor still knew the outline of the castle, although it looked changed at some places, sometimes, as if some older versions and newer versions of the castle overlapped, co-existed in this time.

The way to the servants quarter was covered with dead bodies – mostly servants, as Stor realized, but also some Children of Light. The passage to the main hall was blocked by a crude barricade of tables and chairs. The heroes hid a in a passageway, while Kharamon casted invisibility on him and headed to the barricade. About 15 servants were in the main room, again all servants, although some of them appeared to be armed with the weapons of the Children. The leader was apparently a hulking brute with huge strings of muscles, who was passing around in an aggressive manner, oozing rage. Five of the servants – as the brute, they were of the old blood – seemed to be in a similar mood, and also appeared to be stronger than normal half-elves. They reminded Kharamon of the horror-tales his grandfather used to frighten him when he was not training his mind. As his granddad told him, when those gifted with magic did not control and master this gift, the gift might become a curse, and take control of the mage. Whatever their affinity with magic was – and for some it was their emotions, as emotions were energy, like magic – will become stronger and stronger, and finally take over. The brute must have had an affinity for magic, and his aggressiveness – might it he be born with it or experienced it while the catastrophe in the castle occured – had taken over.

Kharamon sneaked back to his comrades and reported. Stor then tried to convice the servants to subject to hic command as lord of the castle, but the brute refuted and immediately attacked after Stor hauled his first fireball into the barricade. The fight was intense, but short, and all ragers were killed.

Kharamon was observing the main hall and realized something odd. All the other servants covered in the corners of the room, as far away from the fight as possible. However, a young girl – also of the old blood – drew a dagger and disappeared into the north-eastern passageway. The heroes immediately pursued and entered the corridor. The heroes heard a short, painfilled shout that turned into a garglind sound, while two other voices appeard to recite a prayer to Thyr. The passageway zickzacked once, and one of the prayers stopped, slurring into a garling, too. Then another room opened on the norther side of the corridor. Inside were three Children of light, sitting on the ground, the hands bound at their back. Two were dead, their throats slit open, the blood gushing out of the fresh wounds. The girl – not also radiating an aura of rage and raw power, raising her hand to slit the throat of the third soldier.

The heroes focused all their efforts on stopping the girl. After a short battle, she was slain, too, the Child saved.

The heroes interrogated the soldier. He appeared the last remaining survivor of the warriors of Thyr on this floor. Their task was to secure the floor, but after the catastrophe happened – which he described as huge jolt of the ground and booming sound, followed by a surge of energy, and a tearing on their souls – they encountered a tough defense by the raging servants. They were overpowered, and he and his three surviving comrades bound.

An questioning of the servants did not lead to many new information. They were quite intimidated by the brute, both from his power, and because he seemed to afflict others with his condition. They followed him out of fear, which was even greater after he killed the dwarven smith and his apprentice, who refused to follow him.

The heroes searched the other rooms on this floor. Stor found a scroll in the room of the quartermaster, which contained a spell he didn’t know yets. After that, the heroes fortified the main room again, set a watch perimeter, and went to sleep.

However, the well-longed for rest did not the needed recovery. It felt as if they were cut off from the normal flow of magic, and their dreams were filled with terror. In the morning, the heroes looked at each other concerned. It appeared, they had to go through this adventure without replenishing their magical powers!

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Visions of the past
...in which Rurik learns about the Witness

10. Wealsun 996 AF; Free Plains

next day:
the ritual
Healing for Kharamon and Tanquol
Rurik dozes off…into a life past and gone
-
Rurik followed the ritual with interest first, but the chanting of the priest was quite repetitive. Rurik started to gaze around, his eyes discovering the details of the room. The circular shapes on the floor, that reminded him of a stone circle, caught is attention in particular. The stone looked green, had a quality of crystal, yet at the same time were filled with milkish torrents and golden sparkles. Rurik stared fascinated at the flickering glimmer of the gold. While he stared at the stone shapes, his mind wandered. Images filled his mind, of large menhirs forming a perfect circle.

Suddenly Rurik felt a pull and a caleidoscope of light and darkness filled his mind. Then he saw a the stone circle from above, as if a bird was observing it from above. There was a man in the cirlce. Four groups of three humanoids were wainting outside of the circle, and a larger mass of people were standing behind them. 13 humans were standing outside on the right side, covering the right half the menhir cirlce.

Ruriks view was still blurry, but he forced himself to focus and zoom in to the human in the circle. He was young, maybe in his late twenties, dressed as a warrior king with armor and sword, a simple crown on his head. A glowing presence of the height of a large human swirled behind him. However, Rurik felt a fierce awareness emanting from the light, as if it were pure consciousness and will.

Now the scene started to move, as if a frozen picture came to life. The first trio entered the circle. Three dwarves, dressed in an oldfashioned way, slowly walked toward the human king. Two of them knelt down, while the third stood a bit apart, witnessing the scene.

“Do you, Andros of Clan Kundarak, pleadge allegiance to our cause, and swear a holy oath to accept me as your king”?

“I do, and I subject me and my clan to your command and judgement!”

“Then let our bond be.” The king nodded slowly.

A glowing bond formed between the dwarf and the king, silver light. The golden sparkes in the stones flashed as the king replied, and now strands of golden light reinforced the silvery bond between Andros and the king.

“For your loyalty, I bestow this gift on you.” The king touched the forehead of the dwarf with his index and middle finger. At the same time, a beam of energy emanated from the swirling figure behind the king and struck the dwarf; with no obvious effect however.

“So it is pledged, so be it”, acknowledged the third dwarf.

As he spoke, the bond thickened and embraced the human and the dwarf, binding their souls and fate together. And while the whole scene captured Rurik in awe, none of the spectators reacted to it. It dawned on Rurik that they could not see what his eyes showed him. Did he see the magical power of the Oath Stones? But who was the dwarf? Which arcane power did he wield? And which role did the swirling figure of light play?

“Do you, Balenorn of Clan Galvern, pleadge allegiance to our cause, and swear a holy oath to accept me as your king”?

“I do, and I subject me and my clan to your command and judgement!”

“Then let our bond be.” Again the king nodded slowly and touched the forehead of the dwarf. Again, light emanated from the figure.

And again the silvery band formed, reinforced by the light from the Oath Stones, and acknowledged by the third dwarf.

“So it is pledged, so be it!”

Rurik focused his attention on the third dwarf. He appeared to be a Speaker of the Ancients, a scholar of dwarven heritage and law and often counsel in legal matters. In ancient times, the Speakers were also the priests of dwarvendom, gainig their power from the power of the Ancients – the founding fathers who were born from the stone -, and the paragons who went into the stone again.

Rurik felt a weird familiarity with this dwarf. He didn’t know him, that was sure, but he felt an uncanny connection with the spirit of this dwarf. Sure, the personality was different, as was his life and history, but at the inner core, he was like Rurik. Was he an ancestor of him? That would make sense, but yet… the feeling of deja vu, the uncanny familiarity…

A thought formed in Rurik’s mind, so weird and unrealistic that he immediately rejected it. “No this can’t be”

Rurik’s consciousness jerked back, zoomed out, got some distance. No, it can’t be him, his soul, incarnated in a different body. Him, but not the Rurik of this life with his own history, but the essence of him, living in a distant time. Rurik was shaken, and pushed the thought aside. This was too unbelievable, and if he would further dwell on this, he feared he would get overwhelmed by the implications of this possibility. He gathered his will and refocussed on the scene that was unfolding below him.

The dwarves stepped out of the circle and the next trio entered. Two halflings knelt in front of the king, while a third watched the ceremony. The first halfling, Cora Jorasco, pledged allegiance for House Jorasco, the second, Malva Ghalland, for House Ghalland.

The third trio were three humans, Agnella Sivillian and Balthazar Orien, who pledged their loyalty and that of their houses to the king, receiving and unnamed gift from him – or the swirling figure. The fourth and last trio were three hobgoblins, two proud warrior chieftains, who pledged the allegiance of the Tharask and Vadalak Tribe to the king, also receiving the gift.

Rurik was beginning to feel a strain on himself, as if watching this scene – a scene from the past? – consumed parts of hif lifeforce. He forced himself to zoom out of the scene and observed the bigger picture. From a distance, he dared to focus on the swirling figure. Again, a sensation of raw power overcame him, a fierce will, yet somehow unworldly. However, the fierce power reminded Rurik of something that he has touched from a distance, since he heard the call of Thyr, and has connected to him in prayer so often since. Was this Thyr, or a manifestation of him? The old stories revealed how he guided the king in his war against the evil Witchkings. Did Thyr intervene and granted parts of his power to the king and the Houses, Clans and Tribes that pledged allegiance to the king? Never had Rurik heard of this taking place, yet he was witnessing it.

But Thyr’s presence never felt so archaic and unbound like the presence of the swirling figure. Something was different, but Rurik could not make sense of it. Thyr always felt more like a real being, godly and inconceivable in his power, but not unsympathetic to the peculiarities of human or dwarven life.

Again Rurik weakened. He realized his time was running out, or he would harm himself in the process, finally being consumed by it. But he needed to know more about this event. Rurik forced himself to focus on the 13 figures standing outside of the circle. He felt that each of them were attuned to a divince force. The figure in the middle was a priest of Beory, the All-Mother, the others were followers of cults mostly long forgotten, extinct, or driven into hiding by the Children of Light. Rurik got the impression that they disapproved of the ceremonies. Were they jealous of Thyr, did they fear their loss of influence, or even had a hunch of the things to come: The victory of Arthur Manetheren, the union of the Church of Thyr and the Crown, and the conversion of hundreds of thousands of faithfull?

Again Rurik zoomed out. Now streams of humans pledged their allegiance to the king, however, none of them were granted a gift.

Rurik zoomed out further. The scene became a scene of many, in an endless streams of scenes and events. However, he was drawn to a scene further in the past, the day before the oath ceremony. He mustered all his strengths and started to force his will further back in time, meeting increasing resistence in the process.

The healing ceremony of Kharamon was successful, and now it was Thanquols turn. Stor and Kharamon stood around Rurik. Blood poured out of Ruriks nose. He started to shake, but his eyes were pulled back into his head, only showing the white. Stor and Kharamon were very concerned. It was clear that their companion was in huge distress, but they didn’t dare to wake him – if that was even possible. Stor and Kharamon looked at each other and – as if they were thinking as one – both went behind Rurik. Stor, on the left, put his left arm on Ruriks shoulder and his right arm on Kharamons shoulder; Kharamon put his right arm on Ruriks right shoulder, and his left arm on Stor’s shoulder. They formed a perfect triangle with Rurik at the top. Their touch already seemd to calm and strengthen Rurik. Then, with a deep breath, both Stor and Kharamon joined Rurik in his trance. Both Stor and Kharamon formed a bond with Rurik, joining their trained will and force of personality with Ruriks energy.


Suddenly, Rurik felt the presence of his companions, and a surge of energy washed his tiredness away. He pressed further backwards in time.

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