Sunday, 16 April 2017

Easter: A Recap, a Review, and a Saga

Happy Easter everyone! As I missed out on the third event of the Medieval Chaos season because of work, and the fact that I haven't posted for a bit over a quarter of a year, I've decided to spend my free time this Easter weekend attempting to bust out a recap of what I've been doing the past while.

First off, as I didn't mention it my last post, I've been made the Rules Officer for Medieval Chaos, and the majority of my free time following November last year until March this year was spent with a focus group working on this season's update to the Handbook; version 3.1.

After much time and stress it was released to the public at the beginning of March to my surprise a warm reception from the player-base. Granted it does have some hefty changes but they were necessary to fix some of the flaws of 3.0, and implement a new High Guild progression system, along with the addition of a few other systems aimed at improving them game overall. My free time was mostly dedicated to working on that en devour but I managed to squeeze in a few events of note:

In February, the Missus and I attended a masquerade held at the Imbloc Ball, as our Zingari husband-wife duo, Yelir and Fritha. We had heaps good times and Yelir actually won the best dressed male by popular vote. For more photos check out my Instagram.

I also attended the last off-season, off-site mission of the 5316 (2016) season: The Hoards of Azuk'turoth at Glenora Riverside Park, where I orc'd it up and had a blast. Below is a L-R comparison of the advancement I've made to my orc kit I sore to same event the previous year.

A couple of my orcish comrades:

It was a hella stressful month in March; what with the Handbook release, managing an FAQ, answering questions, updating everyone's' Advancement Points and character sheets, preparing for Season Opener, etc. But all that work paid off as the first event of the new season went off super smoothly for most departments and once I was en rapt in my character, Grimm, all my concerns floated away. :)

Other than the onset of several character leveling requests, the Rules department has quietened down for the most part, as I have a couple Marshals and a few Admins to delegate tasks too, such as manning the helm this weekend as I'll be unable to attend; which allows me a bit more free time to plan for each weekly event I am able to attend.

Also do things like the two videos below; Last year I backed a project on Kickstarter called LARP Box, as monthly subscription box for larpers. In these two videos I post my thoughts regarding both the first standard and legendary boxes I received this April.

I believe that's a recap of the most notable things that have occurred as of late, aside from last weekend where I got the chance to play my main PC Kampi since November. Here's a short Saga entry relating his return to Dagger Deep:

Second Day of Frigga
Month of Grass
Local Year 53167
Rune: Ehwaz
Divine Association: none
Literal Meaning: Horse
Interpretations: Companionship
Right-side: Faithfulness, Teamwork, Trust
Inverted: Competitiveness, Disharmony, Resentment

After months away, I returned to Dagger Deep, drawn by an inexplicable call. Over the winter the townsfolk were able to add some additional defensive structures: a watch tower, a make-shift functional gatehouse to the west entry to the bailey, and several other improvements (though the land is still partially flooded and the tavern half-submerged.)

I met with my stanch companion Connor and we discussed a many things; what we did over the winter (Connor returned to his homeland to help on the homestead), the concern over the trust the current leader Caius places in the therian members of his kingdom, the nature of the demonic gilded greatsword that Connor wielded (and lost, but had returned to him) and the unnatural influence it seemed to be exerting over him.

We recalled having deliberately hid this blade the past year, and having our minds wiped by a psionic to ensure it's secrecy, but the sword was still able to call him even far off in his homeland, and he could not help but retrieve it when he joined a troop investigating Azuk'turoth, where Kaah and his fellow abyssal demons were exerting an unwholesome influence on the local orc population. Fortunately they were banished from the land for the time being.

During the winter I heard some of the reports of the Siege against Northbrook and though the allied forces had eventually succeeded in wiping the cursed realm from Arrakis, dark rumours spread quickly when a band of crusaders ventured into Rugger'shrek to discuss why the peace the black orcs that dwell therein had seemed to have fallen and a lone scout from supposedly vanquished Northbrook lured the band many fights with the orcs and eventually to the reappearance of Xander (a traitor to the allied people of the Deep and now one of the leader of the remnants of Northbrook.)

The dire portents finally reared their foul head a week ago, when a legion of Northbrook forces, lead by several of their leaders, and allied with the black orcs, ravaged the unprepared forces that dwelt in this town, before support showed up and drove them away (the orcs looted the shoppes and most likely Northbrook accomplished some unknown goal). 

Aside from my own inexplicable draw, several other warriors (new and old) answered the summons to help bolster the towns defenses and hunt down an destroy any remaining forces.

Whilst Connor and I reflected on the recent events, I was blessed by a whole unexpected sight; my attention was drawn to a radiant figure appearing amongst the worn landscape: Lady Sigrun, valkyria and aspect of the goddess Valfreyjaarrived to Dagger Deep to judge if any were worthy to ascend to Folkvangr. Her presence came as a surprise to me, and I attended her when able. (Given that I still remain here, it was clear she did not find my actions worthy. I am ashamed my martial prowess has grown so feeble over the winter.)

After Lady Sigrun and her varied entourage met with Caius and announced their intentions, myself, along with Connor MacNessa and my stalwart companion Connor MacPherson, decided that patrolling the outskirts of town for any of the black orc or Northbrook remnants was more preferable than satisfying our egos within the tournament ring.

 Though we do not agree with live combat for sport, we did skirmish a number of times with an outside group known as the Champions of Harvan (some sort of battle deity) and a pack of green orcs who were looking for a fight. Over the winter I saved up enough earnings to purchase a skjoldr; I am still getting used to using it in battle, and I do admit whilst I did not relish them, I was grateful for the practice. My actions and mood throughout they day had lead some to undoubtedly mockingly referring to me 'Kampi the Righteous'. I do not consider the thoughts behind my actions, or even themselves 'righteous'; such is a term better suited for those that consider themselves more devout and just, such as Hector, or any number of the paladins or knights sworn to their gods or lords.

I take even less to being referred to as a 'prophet'; a relative new comer to these lands, an elf by the name of Raneth, whom appear to hail from similar northern realms I did, has on numerous times referred to me as such (probably due to my familiarity with Lady Sigrun and given my faith to the gods of the north). I also met another northerner named Runa; a seer who foresaw more arriving to Dagger Deep from similar northern lands.

I am sworn to no kingdom, and not all of my gods aren't just. I do what I feel is best for my friends and allies; perhaps that is why I am unfit for Vahalla or Folkvangr as I do not fit the ideal einherjar as they are spoken of.

Praise Be To The Æsir

-Ref ' Kampi' Vandillson

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Kampi’s Saga: Recounting and Rumination

I still live!

Another year come and gone; so little time to write about what's been done.

I managed to pull enough free time together to bust out a basic recap of all the recent events this past year concerning Kampi and his Saga.

For more frequent updates of my doings, follow me on Instagram; I've been making a point of posting smaller gaming/LARP related things there as I don't have the time to here. Hopefully I'll get to odd chance to do a few more blog posts about what I've been doing that keeps me so busy, but for the time being this blog is mostly going dormant.

Enjoy and have a great 2017!

Third Day of Woden
Month of Yule
Local Year 5316

Rune: Jera
Divine Association: Eir, Goddess of Mercy
Literal Meaning: Year
Interpretations: Harvest
Right-side: Promise, Renewal, Reward
Inverted: Interminable, Repetition, Reversal

It has been quite a long time since my last journal entry, over half a year ago. Many a time I raised charcoal to parchment, but was never able to finish what little I began. Aside from my life being occupied by a great many things, I feel that I cannot still my thoughts during my free moments long enough to find peace; I have an ongoing sense of foreboding in my mind. Despite all that is good in my life, I cannot dispel a dread I feel lurking in the dark recesses of my mind; the occasional headaches and nightmares do nothing to improve this feeling that the shadows in my soul lengthen.

As of late I have been spending my winter in a meager inn near within the harbour district of Helm’s Deep; sharing a small rented loft with my kinsman, Volm, for over a fortnight until he departed eastward on personal errands, leaving me alone in our small room. I have tried to venture forth and be sociable, sometime visiting the various taverns and barrooms throughout the city, but I feel out of place in crowds and reclusive. The longest night of Yule has just passed last evening; my thoughts cannot help but wander back to the celebration with the Greyward house at Shale Glacier the year past, and the grim affairs that later occurred at the hamlet of Amsel.

Much has happened since I last wrote in this journal during the Month of Flowers, nor have I even recorded all that has occurred before that entry, which has always been an intention of my own. Since that fateful 'hunt’ nearly a year ago, my life it seems to have become increasingly more complicated; I will try to summarize what has happened to over the course of the past year since my last entry in an attempt to order my thoughts:

Word reached me during my stay in Uberland during the month of the Sun that Gnimh was present on the 16th day of with her loyal pack and was attempting to exert her influence over the local mongrelfolk and gain the town's trust by offering aid against the hoard of black orcs that had invaded Dagger Deep. By the time I arrived both groups had been dealt with in their own way. I stayed in the Guard Barracks following that incident, wishing to be present to lend aid against another invasion or if Gnimh made another appearance.

Near the end of that month, several days following Midsummer, was the Festival of Osis. I recall still being a member of the Town Guard then; I will elaborate on the fact I am no longer one later. I enjoyed observing the tournament and the great gathering of folk celebrating; I ran I short athletic pastime that was well received. I strung and shot bow a few times in the archery contest, but didn't stay to compete. 

Although Relan was present we had little time to talk privately, in fact I spent more time with his 'brother’ Hector; I am still unsure how I feel about that man, though we are both as some would say of the ‘faith militant’, his outlooks upon the nature of morality, divinity, and free will tend to run contrary to my own and he seems far from willing to openly debate them. It's a wonder how Relan abides him; I've heard them loudly buttheads over some viewpoints. True be told I wasn't feeling sociable and eventually retired, the crowds getting to me.

About a month following a 'tribe’ of various types of goblinoids (many base, with some of cinder, some of rime) converged on the lands surrounding Dagger Deep. Talks with the goblin folk proved futile as they quickly lost patience with any discussion and many of the townsfolk, both single-minded boors and bloodthirsty mongrels, attempted to drive them away with force. If the entire town was committed to such action, we might have been successful, though a large group was either unsure, unwilling, or attempting to find a peaceful resolution; I found myself in the latter. A disposed pair of somewhat astute cinder goblins spoke to us of the the plans of the ‘bullies’ in charge were to perform rituals at each of the five nearby magical portals to seal them, on the idea that the portals have caused nothing but trouble and closing them would weaken their foe, 'the mother of magic’, Gnimh. There was even a rumour that her hated sister Shaar was the force behind goblins plan.

Having been first hand witness to their slaughter at the petty whims of Gnimh and her inhuman agents, I was supportive of their cause, even if for the reason if the portals are closed sooner, than less blood needs to be shed by both the goblins and the townsfolk, and depriving Gnimh of her power could only have beneficial consequences; how wrong I was.

Having personally volunteered as sacrifice for the closure of the Air portal (the second portal they closed following the Water portal; to my endless regret, it was my own blood that sealed it) and experiencing the magical backlash of it, along with that of the Earth and Fire portal, the last being a pyroclastic release of energy that incinerated all those present (mostly goblin). I just quested the top of the barren stone hillock and was brought to my knees at the sheer devastation I gazed upon; something that has become a too frequent dreamscape of my nightmares as of late.

It was quickly decided that allowing the goblins to seal the final portal, that of Life and Death in Woodhenge, could have disastrous repercussions; long story short, despite our weak forces having been split between defending and attacking, and a betrayal by the few cinder goblins we trusted resulting in the shattering of the magical globe of protection around the portal, we succeeded in the end of driving them off. They seemed content with the closure of four of five portals.

And now on to the part where I abandoned the Guard: Exhausted from the ordeals of that day, I came to a gathering of the Guard with their superiors, along with the warlord Alucard and a few concerned citizens; after witnessing the way our ‘superiors’ treated the concerned citizens present with contempt, and the airing of the failures to properly drive off the goblins and prevent them from interfering with the portals, combined with the earlier summons for Relan, Mathuin, and others to be brought in, interrogated, forced to take sleeping draught, and incarcerated for alleged connections to Northbrook; that was the moment that tipped my already unsure loyalty. I walked away from the group in disgust, and after a moment, I briefly returned only to toss in my sash.

I then proceeded to the C&A where I got drunk. A few allies tried to convince me to reamain in the Guard, Relan included, and even though I felt I was breaking my bond to the citizens I swore to protect, I felt that by being hampered by our corrupt laws, I would only be breaking my oath to protect the folk of this town. I left town the following morn into the hinterlands for a few weeks of solace.

It was soon after I noticed my connection to my gods was waning; believing my actions as an oathbreaker had angered them, I returned to town, to discover that I was not the only one whose mystical powers were hampered; it appeared to be effecting the faithful and non-faithful alike, and it was rumoured that the closure of the portals was the cause.

As I was gathering my affects from the Barracks, I saw and spoke with Tibalt the Bard, whom had been incarcerated for attempting to beseech Gnimh for aid in reopening the portals; though she did make an appearance she was of no help, and Tibalt was arrested for consorting with the enemy. I began to realize the full consequences of going along with the portals being sealed, how I my choice to protect townsfolk only resulted in driving them to desperate acts to return things to how they once were, and I saw the law punish those for making the correct choice for the greater good. I did my best to aid those looking to restore the portals, and I witnessed more personal sacrifices as Mordag attempted to call in a favour from Lyra, the so called Queen of Undead and former general of Sakacuron, and Dodger, now preferring to be known as Jackrym, sacrificed his connection to a Fae court to unseal the Air portal. Dispite this, I still stand by my choices, and I support any who also do so for the greater benefit of all.

Eventually all the portals were restored, and it came as no surprise that once her power had been returned to full, Gnimh returned with her force, perusing a pack of mongrels which refused to submit to her will; The Maw I believe is what they referred to themselves as. Like countless times before the town was caught between two warring groups, but the town had few positive feelings for Gnimh and allied with her foe to attempt to drive her away. Our small numbers were crushed and I lay dead off the beaten track for sometime, so long the sky had grown dark by the time a rogue named Starn had revived me (Still owe him a favour); once I regrouped with my allies we found the shredded body of Odez (Lieutenant of the Guard), who'd be mauled to death by the lead mongrel of Gnimh, Silverfang. We collected what remained of his body upon a shield and carried it back to town, where by the grace of the Æsir I was able to restore life to his frail body.

In all honesty, if I knew he was going to become one of them, we would have buried him where he had fallen, for that is where the last decent member of the Guard remains.

Sometime after his recovery, Ajax and I witnessed his physical change into one of those mongrel beasts, and we confronted him upon hearing he hunted down a young lad to sake his unending hunger; harsh words were exchanged but it was kept civil and no blood was shed; I am certain the Odez I knew and respected is gone.

Despite all chaos and seemingly hopelessness, during this I found strength in companionship, the single bastion of hope I have. My kinsman, Volm, who I thought lost on his initial journey eastward over the Dragon Peaks, returned to these lands, and has chosen a path of faith in our old gods similar to my own; I have been doing my best to teach him the ways of the devout, though I frequently question myself, feeling a poor comparison to my mentor Relan, at least before he began enjoy drink too much for his and others well-being. Aligning with his interests and temperament, Volm has chosen Freyng, the god of the Harvest, Fertility, and the Sun, to be his patron deity.

Soon after our pairing, another approached us with interest of our faith, a strapping young lad by the name of Kygo; from his manner of speech, dress, and the lands he claimed to hail from, we believe he is perhaps a distant kinsman of Volm or myself.

I have as well become firm friends with a Caledonian warrior named Connor of clan MacPherson; though a bit bullheaded, he is an honest and true companion. Despite being a warrior first, his devoutness to his goddess(es), The Morrigan, shares many similarities with our own, particularly the association of the raven and collecting the souls of the slain in a manner reminiscent of the valkyrja. He has been more than kind enough to offer the holy grounds he has acquired at Dagger Deep as a site of worship for the Æsir; with our faith slowly growing, I am greatly considering his offer, along with another to join him in Caledonia come the new year, though the distance and method to be travel sounds unbelievable (I have traveled by airship once before, but I was mostly in recovery from Amsel) .

And when I’ve seen him, Ajax has always been supportive in his own way. The last time we met I handed him a lengthy letter to send to his family in Shale Glacier, specifically to his young sister Nerys. It dealt with her a misplaced infatuation with me; it was the hardest thing I had to write. Though Ajax spoke that he was not intending on visiting his folk this winter, I trust he will see the message safely delivered back home, though I would not put it past him to glimpse at the contents out of concern for his sister; between the two of them I hope that at least one of them accepts what I have written.

I have not seen him since we last spoke on Samhain, where we got into a heated argument regarding my consideration of joining with Red Keep’s army that was preparing to march upon Northbrook in a upcoming winter war following Yule. He brazenly stated if Connor and myself were to foolishly risk our lives in such a madcap endeavor, he would have to accompany us to ensure we came to no harm; having known he had intentions on travelling southward to locate the land of his lost love, Erinn. I tease Ajax for pining for her, but it's obvious he deeply cares for her, though perhaps it was not until that moment how much he also cared for his friends; like his sister, he desires no harm to come to them and will take steps to prevent it.

Sometime following Samhain, Connor, Volm, and myself participated in a wargame of sorts between Helm’s Deep and the kingdom of Uberland, with us on the side of the Red Keep. Our forces were mostly outmatched in combat and we had to rely upon our cunning against the trials of that long night. To my shame as a follower of a god of war, it was further laid bare to me that I feel unfit as a soldier; like Connor and Volm, we all have fought many a time and at times do not shirk from battle, but at least in my regard I that was when my spirit is bolstered by a noble cause or threat to those I swore to protect. Though the threat of Northbrook and their supposed god-slaying weapon looms over all, I feel it is outside my capabilities to combat; I will support those who seek to remove the threat they present, but I have concluded that this in not my battle. It seems Connor has made similar choice, deciding to return to Caledonia.

I am sure Sigrun would be disappointed in my choice as well.

I should explain who Sigrun is before I continue; sometime before Samhain when Connor, Ajax, and myself were present together in Dagger Deep we met a comely yet aloof shield maiden, whom went by the name of Sigrun. She claimed to be a valkyrie and an avatar of the goddess Valfreyja, and though at first I did not believe such a bold claim (perhaps because I had always considered the gods of my homeland distant deities with no direct interest in this realm), when she spoke of her task to recover a necklace from a trickster named Seeker Foxkin, a masked avatar of the god of mischief, Lokki. I did my best to aid her in this endeavor, and although we succeeded in recovering the necklace it was shattered and the trickster placed a curse upon the prominent gem that cause the bearing to speak lies every other time they spoke.

Sigrun spend most of the remainder of her short time in our company before she returned to Asgard with the pieces of the broken necklace, and she honoured me with the gift of a relic in the form of a worn cloth she wore bearing the symbol of thrice intertwined drinking horns of the gods. Despite this reward, I could not help but get the impression she was overall dissatisfied with my performance of the representative of the Æsir. I shall try to remain resolute and endeavor to be worthy in her and the All Father’s sight; to some, I must be considerable, for when I awoke by my lonesome the morning of Yule I was pleasantly surprised thrice:

First, upon the floor leaning against the hatch to my room, resting adjacent to my worn boots, lay a great leather-bound tome; at first I was alarmed, as I meant someone had managed to enter my loft during the long night as I slept without knocking my boots over or disturbing me, but upon further inspection of the article, with its wondrous, illuminated contents upon the sagas and myths of my homeland, I deeply suspect it is a gift from either a very clever accomplice, or a possibly a mythical benefactor. Something to both occupy my time during the winter months and possibly gain insight from.

When I descended to join my host and the other tenants in a shared feast to break our fast, after exchanging pleasantries and well-wishes, the owner of the townhouse presented me with a small pine eski, and explained he was to give it to me after it had been delivered to him that morn by a porter. He politely refused the few coins I had for his service, citing it was no trouble. I sat upon a bench near the fire-pit in inspected the small coffer: the front latch was kept closed by a piece of twine looped through it and the ends contained within a wax seal of green; peering at it with the firelight was the imprint of a griffin rampant. At once I knew whom the chest was from: Ajax.

Upon breaking the seal and lifting the lid, my eyes fell upon a worn piece of parchment with the contents listed in a recognizable script; the first of which read:
‘Salt - A most potent and striking anathema against the evil immaterial. Decant from phial in a ring around the hexxer, ensuring there are no gaps lest spectres exploit it.’
I searched the box and drew out a small phial matching the description filled with crystals of salt; after gazing it I placed it beside me upon the bench and read the next item:
‘Oil of Blencathra’ - A blade anointed with pure oil from the Blencathra region will pierce hides of creatures impervious to normal steel.’
I fished out a bottle of verdant smoked glass sealed with red wax, the outside etched with unrecognizable glyphs; I set it down and proceeded to the next item.
‘Talisman - Bruxa are tricky and capricious, and can curse the most are ardent hunter. Arm your with this charm and be not afeared of their sorcery.’
I fished out a metallic disk that hung upon a cord adorned with various mineral beads; after glancing around, I looped it over my neck and trucked in beneath my tunic.
‘Candles - Thrice blessed, candles in ritual preserve oneself from injury of the unknowable and esoteric.’
A pair of pearlescent tallow candles rested in the coffer next to the following items: A small coil of twine and a bulb of garlic.
‘Cord of Hemp - A coil of hemp plantwire, soaked in knotweed to imbue it with strength in binding the impure.’
‘Bulb of Garlic - Each Wampyr, Nosferat, and Lamia cannot stand garlic, and will flee from he who presents it. Instrumental in staking a final-rest to the unnatural living cadavers.’
For a moment I consider that claim: I had heard that the cursed beings of Dagger Deep and Arrakus have no love of the bulbous plant, but I have not heard it being used to effectively drive them off; perhaps it only applies to certain realted creatures. I read and inspected the final item; a long colourless glass phial containing a clean liquid:
‘Holy Water - A phial of crystal water, sanctified by the blessings of monastic orders who defend against evil and malevolent daemons.’
I have both heard and witnessed my mentor Relan bless water in the name of his god Ithus and use it to occasional effect against those demonically possessed. I’m sure I could do the same for a short time, but having a phial of blessed waters that remain indefinite could be useful in its own right.

Replacing the contents back into the chest I could not help but consider the possible intents of this gift: given that many of these objects have protective values, it’s apparent Ajax is obviously concern for my well being, yet at the same time one needs to be in appropriate perilous situation to make use of them; evidently he wishes me to continue aiding him on his ill-boding ‘hunts’ against threats to the innocent. Perhaps in this regard he knows me better than I know myself.

I may as well resign myself to such fate the Norns have woven for me; as much I claim that I desire peace, my soul yearns for conflict.

I am sure this new year shall provide what it desires.

Praise Be To The Æsir

-Ref ' Kampi' Vandillson

Friday, 27 May 2016

Kampi's Saga: Break The Spell

It's been rather quiet on the blog front these past couple months, but that is not because there has been nothing to blog about; quite the opposite, I've been too busy to have time to write about all that's occurred!

I have so many half-completed entries sitting in my drafts; it was my intention to complete them in chronological order but as more time goes by and current events drift into the past I'm finding that prospect difficult to do. I try to record notes and details on the latest event before I forget them, but now I'm beginning to think it'd be better to complete a full current entry before I attempt any past ones, else I may forget important specifics.

This last Saturday's entry at least isn't fully reliable on knowledge of prior recent events to follow, and where such do arise, they can be seen as tantalizing details to future entries on the past. And this latest mission was memorable in Kampi's development so I wish to record it in full before it fades from memory.

When I do begin posting entries on past events, hopefully the break in chronological order doesn't cause too much confusion: mind the dates for the entries. I may create a side page that lists all of the entries in chronological order for ease of reference rather than relying upon the Kampi's Saga link.

Without further ado, here's Break The Spell

Ajax & Kampi, with Shiny stalking in the background

The Fourth Day of the Sun
Month of Flowers
Local Year 5316

Rune: Ingwaz
Literal Meaning: the god Yngvi (an older name for Freyng)
Interpretations: Fertility, Potential, Virtue
  • Right-side up: Friendship, Inner Growth, Loyalty
  • Inverted: Futility, Inner Confusion, Spiritual Crisis

It has been a fortnight since I was in Dagger Deep; my time hence was spent south in Helm's Deep, making true on my offer to use my prentice skills as an armourer repairing the worn brigandine of the bishop of Ithus. As I hammered new rivets and adding patches of leather where needed, I ruminated deeply:

Until half a fortnight prior, I had not had a chance to see me mentor since his sudden abduction from the Imbloc Ball by the orkish of hoards of Azuk'turoth and subsequent rescue. Though I had participated in the task mission to recover the bishop, to my shame I ended up being apart of the main 'distraction' force and not the small group that eventually rescued Relan.

And after the events during the Cheeba's Day Tournament on the last day of the Month of Grass, I find it even more difficult to relate to my master; either from the haunting experience from Amsel that has changed myself both mentally and physically, Relan's own ordeals at the hands of the orks, the recent abyssal crisis, or perhaps some combination of each.

As we celebrated with mead that day, perhaps in an attempt to recapture more pleasant times, had lost respect for both my mentor and myself; things were done and said that were unbecoming of us both. Though older than myself by decades, Relan was acting like a spoiled child; and my own frustration and anger at several things had begun to unnerve me.

Once I had finished my task of repairing his vestment, I had wondered if the owner of that piece had anything to left to teach me; I then briefly pondered whether to return this favour to the Ithusian in person or to pay a courier to deliver it to the locale Relan was staying at.

I eventually decided on the latter choice after an unexpected visitor called; Ajax, whom I had not seen as well since Imbolc, swaggered into my chambers and after a brief exchange of awkward pleasantries announced he had some business to do north in Uberland and half jokingly claimed he could use the company and I could use the practice maintaining his somwhat shabby armour.

After some thought and further badgering from Ajax, I accepted his offer, as I was due to check in with the Town Watch of Dagger Deep anyway. Following a night in which I spent maintaining his gear whilst Ajax talked about his most recent, mostly uninteresting, exploits, we departed for the mid-isle realms by chariot the following morn.

Our time spent in the city of Uberland was sort and we eventually made our way on foot to Dagger Deep; just within sight of town Ajax recalled something and produced a rolled up parchment and handed it to me, claiming it was addressed to me but had been delivered mistakenly to him. It's place of origin was his hometown of Shale Glacier; possibly reinforcing the belief by his family that I am Ajax's squire.

Before I opened the message I checked in with the Captain of the Guard, Milo, and he assigned me my usual Watch duties. With nothing more interesting to do, Ajax accompanied me on my rounds; we mused at the latest notices upon the town's message board, notably "Common Taunts" by the author known as 'Three Sheets'; the majority of which neither of us found particularly humorous, but the last insult about comparing a Dwarf's beard to that of a billy goat made me laugh out loud when I saw the frown upon the thinly-bearded face of my companion. Unfortunately in regards to facial hair, Ajax does take after his human mother more than his dwarvish father.

Eventually, a break was taken from my patrol and I unrolled the missive from Shale Glacier and silently read it to myself:

When my companion inquired to the nature of the message, I initially delayed answering, reading it over again before I mentioned, as casually as I could muster, that his sister sent her love. Ajax's countenance took on a suspicious look when he asked if the letter was from Nerys; I said that is was and before I could finish rolling it up and store it away he snatched it from my grasp and began to read over it, his look becoming even disapproving.

I do not wish to write the full details of the discord that followed between us, but I will touch on a few points: Ajax essentially accused me of leading on Nerys, who has an infatuation with me, at least an unrealistic romantic ideal; perhaps by association with Ajax and his venturesome nature, I am apparently some sort of a daring adventurer to be admired.

Although some may be willing to title me as such, the strife and deeds witnessed and performed at Amsel do not make me such in my own eyes. I seek not glory nor acclaim, profit or confidence. I am still unsure what motivated me to sojourn twice into the northlands; once by my lonesome, allegedly drawn by desire to connect with my homeland, and a second with Greyward on his 'hunt' for the creature that terrorized that accursed thrope...

I have become distracted.

Despite her supposed affections for me, and Ajax's ardent belief that I would be an unfitting husband for her (inwardly I agree with his assessment, but the fact that he was so verbose about it affronts me from being outwardly congruent), I find the prospect of dashing the hopes of young Nerys very difficult to bare, and one can see why Ajax is also unwilling to be the bearer of such news. Though I can also see Nerys rejecting her brother's advice on the grounds of being overprotective (which is true) and thus deepening her infatuation. Perhaps I do long to be cared for; I need to dwell long and hard on how to deal with this.

Once my companion and I had voiced our opinions and cooled our subsequent tempers, the both of us journeyed to Darkwood to look into several rumours about a strange, possibly threatening, creature dwelling therein. On our way, we passed a visiting patrol of holy warriors known as Sigmarites, whose apparent encounter with the being was peaceful (surprising though, given they tend to be ardent-bordering-fanatical in their crusade to cleanse the land of all 'unpure' beings).

A visiting group of Sigmarites

Further into the forest, we at last glimpsed the creature; hunched low as a predator, cloaked and hooded in a robe of umber and pitch, glittering eyes regarded us from a side-cocked ligneous face; aside from the two bidactyl feet it crouched upon, the only other feature that could be seen beneath its covering were several digits arrayed with large, wicked-looking claws.

The strange creature known as Scarab

Our attempts at communication with it were mostly vexing; the odd canter of its speech combined with its enigmatic questions and aloof replies, made our assessment of its nature and intention difficult. In the end, Ajax and myself decided it was best to leave well enough alone, for it only seemed a threat to those who would threaten it; for the time being we collectively decided it must be some form of nature spirit, for it did mention it had been dwelling in Darkwood for sometime. Why now it chose to make its presence known, we cannot say; perhaps it is related to its desire to locate an individual known as 'the killing knife', as heard from a second-hand encounter.

Soon after we had returned, a small trio of goblinfolk, nervously entered town through the south gate; two (female?) goblins, green as spring grass, accompanied an elder (male?) the shade of cinder (a fire goblin undoubtedly). As my duty as town guard, I cautiously approached these creatures known for their cunning, as a small crowd of concerned citizens gathered to watch the proceedings, greeted them, and requested their intentions.

This group appeared to be non-threatening and only inquired to those who would listen if and how the recent changes they attributed to this lands' recent stay in the abyss had altered the folk of this town (if at all) and how they felt about it. The goblins related some of their kin had changed into larger, brown-skinned varieties, and that some were unhappy with this change. They also mentioned many of their kin were nearby; perhaps an (un)intentional threat.

Eventually, this trio was brought before King Kasper Willumarius, who was present and holding court that day, and after being questioned by him, the goblins were permitted half of an hour to seek and obtain their desired knowledge concerning changes to their kin before they must depart these lands.

Sometime later, when many goblins had dispersed throughout town, another group of outlanders arrived and took up position around the royal court; I informed Willumarius of such and we proceeded to meet the host. There, a great pack of theriantropes of varying 'breeds', tense and agitated, surrounded the pair leading them: Silverfang, the intimidating legendary alpha of all therians, and the small-folk avatar of Gnimh, the supposed goddess of wild magic, and also the creator of goblinfolk and therians alike.

King Willumarius, in his 'polite' way, inquired to the visit, and it became known that Gnimh was seeking a lost piece of her magic staff and apparently believed it to be in the vicinity of Dagger Deep. Their discussion was soon interrupted when an eager goblin, seeking approval from the 'mother of magic' (a lesser goddess perhaps, for the All-Father Wodin is the God of Magic), lightly brushed Gnimh with a fawning hand, to which she responded by flying into a berserk-like fury, and tore its still-beating heart out from its chest with her bare hand and proceeded to devour it.

She then loudly called for the slaughter of all goblins, and her pack of therianthropes were loosed to see her will done. King Willumarius offered aid to drive the goblins out of town, for their time had passed anyway, but when Gnimh demanded the ears of all goblins, whether they be male, female, or young, the king refused, as did many others including myself. The rumour that the goblins also had the missing piece was also spread along with a reward for finding and returning it.

Not entirely trusting the motivations Gnimh, Silverfang, or the host of therianthropes, I did not aid in driving the goblins out of town and the surrounding land, nor in the barbaric practice of collection their ears; I had been commanded to guard Willumarius and that I did. The goblins were quickly routed and it became a slaughter; though Willumarius claimed his goddess Cheeba had charged him many a time with the purge of goblinfolk, never he did deal so against their non-warriors, nor with such a degree of sheer malice.

Even though Gnimh was a supposed goddess and the king's decision to turn on the goblins might have been motivated out of the best interests of the town, I could not help but silently question his convictions to his goddess; by allowing Gnimh's word and tolerating her fanaticism, he in my own mind was placing her above his own goddess.

I kept these specific thoughts to myself.

A group of us then followed 
Watch lieutenant Odez into Ork's Field, as he began to enforce the kings' order. After witnessing a skirmish between a group of goblins and therians, Ajax, in a somewhat surprising turn, agreed with my troubled assessment that this persecution of goblins was rapidly turning into a needless genocide. Perhaps after the events at Amsel, we are both loath to trust the whims of beings motivated by unquenchable hunger or desire.

Privately, we made the choice to parley with the goblinfolk, to stave hostilities, but to mostly learn if they did in fact have the missing staff-piece Gnimh was searching for. Speaking with the brown hobgoblin Commander Small-Ear, who seemed to respect my supposed position of authority as a member of the Watch, related that they did in fact have such a item and were keeping it from Gnimh on the belief that if she was able to gain such a thing, it would giver her complete control over all therianthropes, which would spell further doom to his kind. We were further told their 'red' leader was safekeeping it.

We initially mistook a different firegoblin, matching our description of the other I had met earlier, who was touting something about a great 'Chair-Man' and would gave me a bizarre small book bound in red. I still have this odd piece of literature; I feel he might have been a member of the Liberateurs movement...

Soon a tense standoff between the therian host, lead by its two figures, and a group of loyal citizens of Dagger Deep, led by King Willumarius. developed; the king believing Silverfang to be under Gnimh's control boldly attempted to slice open his throat to 'release him'. That bold action caused therians to turn on us and the majority of us were slain. Yet, despite such a daring act, Silverfang still sued for a peaceful resolution between the Deep and his goddess and pack, and those who had fallen from the skirmish were returned to life.

Following that altercation, one of the therians addressed me directly; appealing to my reason and attempting to liken their worship of Gnimh like my own faith in the Æsir, to which I responded with a question: Were they so devoted to their 'goddess' to have no concerns at all about the rumour that Gnimh would have complete control over all of them should the missing piece be found? He said that that would allow for the highest form of worship, to which I said their blind loyalty is nothing like my belief in my gods; the truest form of faith is being granted the choice not to follow them, but making the choice to do so.

Ajax and I finally met with the leader of the firegoblins and let them know our peaceful intentions; he eventually disclosed to us that he no longer had possession of the lost staff-piece, though the way he said it also told that Gnimh had it neither. Eventually the two of us decided to seek out the therian host, which for sometime had been largely visible but had since disappeared, and exchanged rumours with several allies in Darkwood:

First, a therianthrope commonly known by the nickname of 'X', related how Gnimh had exerted her control upon nearby were-creatures that were not loyal to her, bidding them to act against their own will (Ajax and I witnessed such when the local beast-man Shadow attacked and searched the body of the goblin leader for the missing piece, soon after we spoke with him; supposedly he was under Gnimh's influence when doing so); several of the resident therians aided the opposition to the goddess by staying out of the reach of her influence.

Second, the well-meaning but occasionally very naïve elven priestess, Lady Light, spoke a rumour that the staff-piece had found its way back to Gnimh. When I was able to draw Ajax's attention away from her bosom, we decided to find and confront the goddess and see if this was true. A young newcomer by the name of Ulfric joined us on our search; the less heavily laden youth made a good scout compared to the noisier pair (particularly Ajax and all his maille and plate). Alas, our search was fruitless, though we did spy Balthier travelling through Ork's field by his lonesome; avoiding Gnimh's influence or perhaps on some devious personal errand. 

By the time we had returned from our trip, I spied a familiar object lying ahead of us upon the path: Milo's spear. Just after I ran ahead and retrieved it, a group of therians appeared farther down the path carrying the wererat himself. The three of us prepared for conflict, but their leader Silverfang claimed their intention was amicable; apparently Milo had been poisoned with a deadly toxin that prevented him from being brought back to life and Gnimh's power would restore him.

Though the intentions seemed outwardly cordial, the details the lay beneath were less than benevolent (a fitting parable for therians in general I think); it seems that Milo had poisoned himself to prevent Gnimh's influence forcing him to reveal the location of the lost piece, which the now revived and compelled captain related that Balthier was safeguarding it from Gnimh. Having revealed the desired information, Milo and the rest of us were allowed to leave (further) unharmed, though it did take some convincing for Milo not to attempt any arrests.

After returning my captain to town and having a brief respite, I came upon the therians yet again in South Ork's Field whilst searching for Ajax and my other allies that had last been there; they lay dead at the feet of Silverfang's pack and before I could issue challenge, my body went rigid and darkness fell upon my eyes and deafness upon my ears.

An eternity of void seemed to pass but it must have not lasted longer than a moment, for my senses were suddenly returned with a sharp inhalation of breath, and the once still corpses were now lumbering about abnormally, imbued with unlife. I began to retreat slowly, hand on the hilt of Sváfnir, coolly voicing my concern at the situation. Silverfang claimed they had grown tired of acting diplomatically and working within the laws of Dagger Deep. He then commanded several of his pack to slay me; as I sprinted towards the rear entrance to the tavern I was overrun and slain.

When at last I was returned to life by friendly faces, we moved rapidly to defend the town from attack by the deceiving therians; Gnimh's host held the bailey and courtyard and the majority of the attack was focused on the western gate, led by King Willumarius. I opted for a strike upon the neglected north gate, I bypassed their lousy defense and distracted those inside the bailey by dashing along the battlement, before I briefly sparring with the werewolf whom I debated with on the nature of worship, before attacking the enemies' rear flank. Soon though, our initial attack force of citizen and goblin allies were routed.

Though the therians had ample opportunity to slay all inhabitants and feast upon our corpses, they instead chose to pursue the fleeing goblin forces and leave us to our recovery. Hopefully Gnimh and Silverfang chose not to return, though we best prepare for such an eventuality.

As dusk began to settle, the majority of the town did what they always did following a endured crisis: drink and feast. Though I kept from partaking in too much of drink (wary of the anger in me it brings forth as of late), I did share some mild elven wine with Ajax along with some of my vittles, as we rested our thews over a game of pip'n'tiles (to which we argued about the rules) before we departed for some air (and more food for me from Kippo's shoppe; I cannot recall the last time I was so ravenous with hunger).

Though Ajax had been lustily tolling the fairness of Odez's newest apprentice all throughout the day, an elven maiden with a name recalling pleasantly exhaling, both of us became melancholic as he pined about his lost love, Erin Westwood of Averland, and I about the meaning behind awful dreams that have been haunting me as of late. Eventually, we both took solitude seperately.

I spent my own time patrolling town, ruminating deeply, and spending time in prayer to the Æsir, asking for their guidance. Ajax and I later crossed paths and by this point he was rather drunk; wandering darkened paths alone, lit only by the full moon, singing half-remembered songs to himself. I followed him for sometime, watching over him until we made our way back to the lit streets of town.

As I resumed my patrol, I encountered the elf priestess Lady Light, and as we exchanged pleasantries my gaze briefly fell to her chest and I saw what had drawn my companion's attention earlier that day: On her cloak was two polished brass brooches, each in the shape of the noonday sun casting its rays. The general likeness to the heraldry of Averland was uncanny, and I at once knew I had a gift for Ajax that would hopefully cheer him up.

I politely inquired to purchase one from her, and offered her a hundred daen for such, far more than what she believed it worth; but I was inconveniencing the Lady by taking one of her cloak clasps and I wished to present this gift in person to my friend this evening whilst there was still the opportunity to do so.

I headed to the tavern with the brooch in my possession and found Ajax discussing with an odd fellow, named Brusjef, about sending a letter to Averland; he had previously mentioned to me how he had no knowledge if any of his letters to Erin had ever arrived in her far off realm, and I, in perhaps poor jest, suggested he have the trader Brusjef ensure delivery of such in the future. Apparently he took my suggestion seriously.

When he concluded his talk flustered, yet hopeful that he will be able to establish contact, I asked him if he was somewhat soberer, and he said he was; I placed the sun brooch on the table before him. I shan't forget the look of surprise and joy upon his face when his eyes befell that gift.

Dispite all we've been through together; the arguments, the disagreements, the hardships, and perhaps above all, Amsel:

I want to believe Ajax and I have forged an unbreakable bond. Gods know I need one.

Praise Be To The Æsir

-Ref ' Kampi' Vandillson