Thursday, 13 August 2015

Kampi's Saga: Unrequited Vengeance

Here's a long entry of Kampi's Saga, filled with many images of the day and some of his inner most thoughts. Skal!

The second Day of Thonar
Month of the Harvest
Local Year 5315

Rune: Thurisaz
Divine Association: Thonar, the Guardian of Asgard
Literal Meaning: Giant
Interpretations: Emotion, Force, Instinct
  • Right-side: Catharsis, Protection, Purification
  • Inverted: Compulsion, Danger, Malice

Following an uneventful stay here in Helm's Deep, I once again visited that mystical place that lies to the north: Dagger Deep. Despite all the calamity that is inexorably drawn to it, I, along with many other individuals (noble intentions or otherwise), continue to fight for it.

As is oft to occur, during the latter part of my journey to the township, I came across several friendly faces: my close friend Tobias, his cheerful companion Ori, along with their colleague in the mage school of Illodia and disciple of the sacred, Sunset.

We gathered around the sparring ring, where several aspirants desired to test their mettle by a trial in combat against a pair of seasoned fighters under the watchful eyes belonging to arbiters of their respective guilds.

We obliged many of them, taking turns in the ring. After the competitive drive a week ago during the Festival of Osis, it was refreshing to hone ones' skills with some light sparring whilst passing on advice to the newly initiated.

After the melee, my companions departed to attend Illodian concerns and I met and talked at great length with my mentor Relan, whom I had not seen before I had departed on my wayfaring up north. We discussed many things. He further tutored me in the divine script, which I am now convinced was composed long ago by dutiful scholars as an alternative means to cipher holy writings when runic (which I believe to be the true script of the gods, at least of the Æsir) would be more widely known. Relan politely disagreed with my conjecture.

It seems Relan and I disagreed on much after that day; I am unsure if that is beneficial or unfavourable to our relationship as mentor and student. Though I was physically distant from him for sometime, before that and even now there is still a certain feeling of being remote from each other that might go well beyond having different faiths. This was further intensified by several discourses during the twilight hours later that day.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

During our walks about the town, we encountered several odd beings, the first of which were a pair of ghostly azure lights that spoke in airy voices and flitted about interacting with locals in an occasionally mischievous fashion. They were soon joined by a silent third that appeared to be their lead. Initially they were thought to be fairy-folk until it was pointed out they were 'wisps'.

Another unfamiliar face was that of an elder dressed in a patchwork cloak who walked with the aid of a staff. He inquired about some marbles he had lost and was willing to pay for their return. There was also a man who bore a large 'pet' serpent. Such animals are rarely found where I am from and I find it difficult to reconcile that mortals would willingly consort with such creatures given their sullied connection with other scaled monsters; my mind leaps to the sagas containing the vile world-serpent, Jörmungand, and the malicious wyrm, Nidthogg.

Back to the topic of losing ones marbles, we came across a most disturbing man, black hooded and spear-wielding, who raved about 'the ten marbles of mankind' and what the 'All-Father' compelled him to do; one witness to his frenetic jabbering later relayed to us he had mutilated his own face by the will of his god, which I am without a doubt certain is not the true All-Father, Wodin. I must keep in mind that if he appears again the future and continues to besmirch one of the well-known name of the Chief of the Æsir, I may be bound to reconcile his disbelief, perhaps forcibly.

The light rain that did on occasion fall from the sky this day, along with the crow (a lesser bird of black plumage, similar looking to the more worthy raven, but smaller in size and low in bearing) that was seen circling periodically, and the appearance of these 'wisp' creatures, had my mentor Relan grimly proclaim them heralds of a certain god-like entity that had appeared the past year, known as the Morrigan.

A crowd had gathered at the tavern to witness the silent wisp manipulate the board of a tafl game known as chess, distributing certain pieces to select patrons, retrieving, and arraigning them upon the board in a select pattern. Relan and I departed the tavern briefly to attend to personal business whilst discussing the possible distracting omens of game-pieces and marbles, when suddenly the collective in the bar was beset by a legion of armed assailants bearing a cobalt-hued twice-barred cross as their unifying emblem.

Relan and I quickly joined the fray and after a heated battle, our gathering managed to drive off the aggressors, but only after we were aided by a small group of female newcomers (their dress was similar to those of the Celtfolk I knew in my youth). It was quickly established the four women were followers of the Morrigan; their high priestess was named Deidra, and the three sisters were Anu, Badb, and Macha. They were also accompanied by a shimmering insubstantial form, that Deidra claimed to be a divine servant granted by the Morrigan that she could beckon to full form at will.

Suspicion was thick in the air, for many of our group unfavourably looked upon the followers of the Morrigan from past events that occurred a year ago. Deidra beseeched us to aid her, for a powerful being known only as 'the Paragon' had become host in the body of the kender Rosalia and now strove with its force to perform rituals at the elemental portals of this land to create a weapon capable of slaying deities.

Despite past misgivings, we allied with the high priestess. In preparation, the blessing of Ithus was placed upon several of our weapons, mine own included. Deidra also offered many of us a magical boon from the Morrigan; I initially rebuffed her offer, stating that I preferred to keep to my own faith (despite just accepting a boon from Ithus; outside of the Æsir, I place my trust in Relan's god); she seemed to understand my motive and accepted it with grace. After a brief supplication by Relan, we collectively marched with haste to the first location the Paragon was believed to begin its rituals: the water portal near the river Galadriel.

Unfortunately we arrived at the river just as the unhallowed ritual was reaching its completion. Though the sisters of the Morrigan were able to dispel the protective barrier the servants of the Paragon had erected around those performing their vile rites and we met their force in combat, we were unable to break their lines before the ceremony was completed. The ground quaked, throwing all prone as the elemental link collapsed and its power was drawn into the large two-handed greatsword wielded by the Paragon.

Our foe quickly withdrew by magical means whilst we contended with the remaining forces. During the battle, my mentor Relan had been dealt a grievous wound: his right eye had been dislodged by the thrust of a blade, partially blinding him. Whilst I safeguarded his vulnerable state from threats, he, through admirable discipline, returned the displaced orb to his head and recovered the injury through the grace of Ithus.

The High Priestess related to our group that the Paragon and her its forces must be moving to the next portal in the supposed cycle: the earth portal. We gathered our forces and redoubled our efforts to the thistle-filled plain known as Andi's Land. Again we arrived just as the ritual was under way and again the earth shook despite our valiant efforts. I slew many a foe and I fell repeatedly to the weapons they wielded, the crushing embrace of half-bred offsprings of orc and troll, and to the arrows of their keen-eyed archer.

A few of our group focused repeated efforts on capturing the Paragon's hosted form to prevent the future rituals, but it proved too difficult with the powers that it and its allies brought to bear against those who attempted to seize the form of Rosalia.

Though soundly beaten again, we were still determined to prevent the Paragon's plan to further infuse the sword with god-slaying power; once we regathered our band we pressed off to prevent the twice-successful ritual from being further performed. We had also learned that the Paragon was using the blood of particular individuals they had captured to fuel these rites, and those who were believed to be sought by the enemy took to hiding or disguising themselves; two of such were Lord Caius, Protector of the Deep, and Sir Odez of Uberland, respectively.

Our plan partially succeeded, for while we were mistaken in our knowledge that the air portal was to be the next target and travelled there to secure it, it delayed the Paragon from being able to complete their ritual at the portal of fire. When news of their location reached us, the bulk of our force sought them out to engage whilst at my suggestion a small group remanded to defend the air portal should our foe succeed in gaining the elemental potential of flame.

The wise and kindly jötunn Mordag was able to direct us to what he believed to be the precise location of the air portal and we arrayed ourselves around it to repulse any force encountered with our lives. A pair of clever females worked on supplementing our position with an array of hidden traps, whilst the rest of us steeled our nerves and replenished our faith in our gods or connection to nature.

Time pressed on, the sounds of battle few and distant. Tobias was able to pass on his recently mastered knowledge of the uses of several plants to me. Eventually a shieldmaiden dressed in the garb of an Uberlandian came upon our group by her lonesome, persistently inquiring about the presence Lord Caius.

We were correct to be wary, for she was strange in her demands and heedless to the appeals to halt her advance; she strode through several snares yet she seemed unmindful to the wounds they inflicted upon her. It wasn't until the strength of the giant knocked her flat upon her back her progress was halted, after which she withdrew indignant by her lack of answers. She must have been undoubtedly under the control of the Paragon, seeking to use her relationship with Caius to draw him out of hiding.

Hereafter we heard the full force of our foe in the nearby hinterland and drew alert and silent; we believed they were searching for the air portal and would soon come upon our ambush. We prepared for the inevitable.

Soon we heard friendly shouts approach from the opposite direction and they sought to engage with our enemy, who responded with cries of their own. Suddenly, a great rumbling quake told all that they somehow had managed to complete their ceremony as it was later learned with the blood of Odez, whose attempt to disguise himself was unsuccessful. Our small band was incensed that the Paragon must have managed to tap into the air gateway via a nearby ley juncture.

The final prospect was obvious to all now: a single portal remained between success and failure. Tobias, myself, and several of our well-rested comrades proceeded hence with all haste to the last portal. There we again prepared for a final stand. In readiness for the inevitable onslaught, I chose to accept the again offered boon from Deidra, the high priestess of the Morrigan: She laid her hand upon my arm and after a brief lull I felt empowered beyond what I have ever felt before. It was as if the Æsir imbued my weak mortal frame with their combined potency: the might of Thonar, the courage of Tyraz, the very will of Wodin. I was ready for anything that may come.

Yet, gradually over the course of time, Deidra then revealed to us glad tidings: she had received divine presage that the Paragon had failed in its task to harness the control of all four gateways to create its weapon and all that remained for us was to meet them at a particular location and banish them once and for all!

Feeling that the end was within our grasp we proceeded as a group to the place that was to allegedly be the final battle, but we to soon discovered their force outside of the town and quickly learned we were deceived by a falsehood worthy of the Trickster himself: Whilst we departed the fire portal a small band of their warriors secured it for an imminent last ditch attempt at completion of the ritual.

With my last motes of energy I flew back to the portal with all the swiftness and determination I had, alone spearheading a vanguard to the spot. I arrived just as the warriors of the Paragon arrayed themselves out to safeguard their holding. Knowing that time was critical, I did not wait for the remainder of my allies to arrive; I felt that alone I might cause a distraction and weaken their defences, however slight.

I approached their line and a tall man wearing plate, maille, and a feathered cap, carrying a two-handed blade over his shoulder, called out to me as a northman in the surprisingly familiar accent belonging to the lowlands south of my homeland, challenging me to a duel with him. Driven by the pride of an honourable fight, the confidence granted to me by the gods, and the belief that I stood a better chance fighting one on one, I engaged my challenger.

To the best of my ability I parried his great blows and managed to score a few of my own upon him, and we seemed evenly matched until an honourless archer drove his arrow shaft deep into my chest. I knew then I would not last long and prepared to meet the greyness of death, when a blur tacked my foeman; it was Tobias and the remainder of our force crashed against their own. I eventually fell but an ally soon had me back on my feet and we proceeded to drive the Paragon's allies from these lands and banish the being from the exhausted kender.

At last, we were successful in preventing the god-slaying weapon from coming into being!

Exhausted over the events of the day, I voraciously supped alone back at the tavern whilst many celebrated. Afterwards I joined again with Relan and we resumed our earlier conversations; I told of the power I felt from the boon granted by the high priestess of the Morrigan, and he advised me to cleanse myself to remove any possible 'stain' left from the blessing belonging to a not entirely affiliated god. He seemed to perhaps wisely continue to harbour mild suspicion against the Morrigan and her followers despite their beneficial actions of that day.

We also continued our discussion about the followers of the Black Rose and how they've been able to taint those of divine grace with a form of 'Abyssal mana' that consumes what is granted to the pious by the gods, gradually replacing their faith with a corrupted mockery. A dangerous threat to all followers of the holy ways.

Our late night conversations were soon disturbed by the arrival of a infamous figure: the outlaw and servant of the Black Rose, Dimitri. After a tense exchange with him, Relan and I gathered a band from the tavern willing to attempt capturing him (for the greater good or the bounty). Laughing mockingly, he slew several valiant fighters by ripping their hearts from their chest or by setting some aflame, one of which was Relan, whom I managed to pat out before the flames wholly consumed him. We then lost his form in the thick underbrush near Fort Rowanoak, and our attempts to locate or cajole him out proved fruitless.

The two of us soon met with Rosalia and that broody hestkuk of a mage Philip. Rosalia was acting somewhat delirious; I though she was merely completely exhausted being host to that Paragon being all day, but turns out the reason was more dire than that: Through events I don't entirely understand, the little kender's shrivelled right hand was not her own and her mind constantly bickered with the spirit contained therein. Supposedly both belonged to the long lost wife of the mortal who became the dark lord of this realm, Sakacuron, whose desire for her was so great it drove him to acts of unforgivable evil.

Her wanderings brought us to the darkness near the river Galadriel, where we were soon joined by Dimitri. Since Relan did not make against him, I stayed my hand out of respect for my mentor and his perhaps wise course of action, though I constantly struggled with the urge to throw myself at that arrogant villain, even if the death he granted would save me from what I saw and heard that evening.

After some discussion, it was decided that Dimitri would remove the hand and see it back to his master; the process may forever haunt me. Through magic, Philip, perhaps in a misguided act of pity, made it so Rosalia's screams would not be heard, for Dimitri cut off her hand with a knife. The slow act we witnessed was almost too much to bear; I wished I had an axe to lend to hasten her suffering. I have newfound respect for the little kender for enduring such pain.

Once the appendage was free, Relan returned her to life; with her old hand in place of the other, she was herself again. A tense dialogue followed where I was but an observer to an array of subjects perhaps beyond my understanding, or rather willingness to understand. The affairs of locals I told myself, though I feel that I must grow to learn such tales as I know that this land is now perhaps my new home.

Eventually their discussions came to a close and we parted without a violent incident occurring. My mentor and I had a fierce dialogue on the nature of morality and how ones actions were justified: Relan would seek to satiate the looming threat of Sakacuron and the Black Rose by reuniting him with his lost love, hoping that by granting what him what he desires most this world might be saved from his ravages. For Relan, it seemed that end would justify the means.

I deny this, for to me it is akin to giving a mass murderer a pardon, disrespecting all who died in his wake in this and other worlds in his pursuit of his passion, as noble as it perhaps once was. I know deep in my soul the Æsir would wish us to fight until the very end, just as they plan to do at Ragnarök, despite knowing it is to be their doom. Attempting to appease the threat is to accept defeat and dominance by it.

My teacher said wearily that there were many paladins and acolytes in the land who'd agree with me; though I am sure it was not meant to be one, but I somehow took that observation as slight.

We ended back at the tavern, which was empty from the late hour, where we relieved our exhausted and sullen souls by partaking in heavy drink with the kender and the mage before we all retired for the night.

Praise Be To The Æsir

-Ref 'Kampi' Vandillson

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