Book Two — The Exigers

Chapter1

Steal From the Rich and Give to the Poor

As we sat, brooding, along came some adventurers. We greeted them cautiously, then began talking. In fact, we talked all the next day. Their names were Norac, an Orlanthi Wind Lord who was Wereran; Borax, an Agimori herder from the plains; and Jankali, also a herder from the plains.

Our weapons status was rather grim. Norac had an iron bastard sword and a dagger. He knew Bladesharp 6, Disruption, Heal 6 and Darkwall. Borax had a stone axe and knew Heal 3. Jankali had a one-handed battle axe, a one-handed short spear and a long bow and knew Speedart, Heal 2, Disruption, and Bladesharp 2. Harmast had his dagger, and had fetishes for Disruption and Bladesharp 4 as well as his Rune spells. Thingol had a sling and knew all his sorcery spells as well as Light. Gorfang had his hammer and knew Disruption and Heal 2. Enkavar had his sling and knew Disruption, Speedart and some Rune spells. And last, but not least, Worfang had his one- handed short spear and a dagger, but knew all his spells.

The area we were in has two basic social classes. The first are the menials, who till the land.

The others are the exigers, who live in strongholds and sometimes come down to demand tribute (read raid, loot, and pillage).

The menials are not allowed to have weapons, for obvious reasons, but have developed a sort of martial arts, which lets them use staves to good effect. The menials accept their fate, though they do occasionally rebel. They are usually put down very quickly.

The exigers are divided into clans. In turn each clan is separated into ‘real’ exigers, who were born in the Mari Mountains, and the others, who joined them willingly. Each of these clans has its own set of menials. If, on the way to their own menials to demand tribute, they pass a valley with an other clan’s menials, they will also demand tribute from them. Needless to say, this means that the exigers are in a constant state of feuding. Generally, though, the exigers only demand tribute from other clans menials when they seriously need to. Sometimes, an exiger clan will also demand tribute from the people in the plains or the jungles. At others, they will expand their set of menials by fighting the previous owners and defend their ‘kingdom’ until the previous owner regains the menials. Each clan also has a gimmick, which identifies each clan.

Recently, a plague in Pamaltela wiped out nearly a fourth of the people of Jolar. Perhaps to recover faster, the Arbennans, Jolar people, hired the Hookhill clan of exigers to help then slaughter some Kresh wagoneers. The Hookhill clan’s gimmick is the taming of the mountain trolls. There is also a clan of exigers made up of former menials. While they call themselves democratic, it is name only. They also raid far more than the real exigers.

With this information, we decided that perhaps we could help some of these menials to fight off the exigers. At worst, we could ambush a raiding party and get weapons and armor. So we headed off towards the nearest menial valley.

The valley is roughly triangular, approximately six kilometers long and four at its widest point.21 A river runs through the valley, and there is a pond that is also fed by a spring. Bridges cross all three streams and the village is nestled between two streams next to the pond. The buildings were made out of turf.

We headed down towards the village, to the nearest bridge, a covered one. As we got closer,

  1. We entered from the eastern entry to the valley. See Appendix B for a listing of the valleys.

we saw a man dressed all in furs. When he saw us, he bolted across the bridge towards the village. After a brief discussion, we crossed the bridge and headed towards the village, with no weapons drawn. We were met halfway to the next bridge by a group of villagers

Harmast tried to speak to them in all the languages he knew. The villagers didn’t understand him at all. Then one of them spoke.

“Where from?” he said in a language similar to Arbennan, far from West Jungle, which we called Marit.

In response, Harmast drew a crude map in the snow. The villagers seemed confused. When Harmast tried to get across the concept of the ocean, the villagers were very confused. While they understood water, they couldn’t grasp what an ocean was. But then they seemed to understand.

They brought us into the village and gave us beer. So much for sign language. For some of us, it was a welcome drink, and we drank heartily. Delicious. Of course, all this time, Norac, Borax, and Jankali were silently laughing over Harmast’s crude attempts to communicate. Finally they revealed to us that they could speak the language somewhat.

Gorfang asked through Norac if there were any other dwarfs around. They brought out an old, old man, named Blind-Knob. He poked and prodded Gorfang and said that 60 years ago, he saw a ‘rock maggot’ which is what they called dwarfs. Legend has it that they burrow all their lives through the ground and only come up to the surface to die. Seeing one is supposed to bring seven years of good luck.

The children all clustered around Enkavar. They all wanted some of his feathers. Enkavar was mildly frustrated by all this unwanted attention.

The valley they called the Valley of the Mists, for obvious reasons. The village itself was called Mistvale. It had around 200 people, 120 or so adult, the rest children. We also learned from the headman (whose name was Tiburo) that the exigers were supposed to come to Mistvale tomorrow, and that they come at approximately three week intervals. They said that they would hide us. So we hid from them in a haystack.

The sounds that we heard were not pretty. Pigs were squealing, gruff voices yelling, girls screaming. And one particularly chilling sound. After one girl’s screaming, we heard a villager yelling out in protest. This was followed by a hiss of a weapon swinging, a hoarser scream of agony, and the thump of a body hitting the ground. Finally, peace returned on the valley. There was blood on the snow and the villagers were burying a man. It was the man who had first spoken to us, the man who had given us the beer. We all mourned silently, and I suspect that some of us swore to right this wrong.

But first we had to be able to communicate with the villagers. They offered to let us stay the whole winter, claiming that if one was caught outside a valley when a blizzard hit, one would die.

We tentatively accepted their offer and they seemed genuinely appreciative of Gorfang’s offer to help mend their farming tools. We spent the next three weeks learning Marit. Borax and Norac also taught some of the prettier girls Arbennan.

Again we laid low during the next raid. This time when we emerged, one of the girls that Borax had been teaching had been carried off by the exigers. Borax wanted to go after them, but common sense prevailed. For the next weeks, we kept learning Marit and readied ourselves. We also learned that the clan that raided this area was called the Brand clan, because their gimmick was using fire.

Three days before the expected attack, the headman asked if we were going to fight back. We responded in the affirmative, and they asked us not to make a final decision until that evening. Puzzled, we agreed. Later that day, down out of the hills, came an extremely old man, a shaman actually. He recognized Worfang as a shaman and Worfang saw that the old man’s fetch had

around 50 points of POW. The villagers told us that he had no name, having lost it in a combat with an evil spirit.

“Are these the ones?” he asked the headman The headman nodded. “I have something to say,” he said to us. He asked Gorfang if he was a rock maggot, to which Gorfang said yes.

“I must speak of a vision. A vision concerning three of the People,22 three other people,23 a rock maggot,24, and a talking bird.25”

His actual speech was very complex, and none of us really understood his implications, but the gist of it was that we would either free the villagers or kill them. Meaning of course that we would either kill the exigers, or the exigers would come back and kill the villagers in retaliation.

Thingol asked if the shaman could help out magically, meaning supply Thingol with some magical support, perhaps a magic point storing crystal. The shaman replied that he was the spiritual keeper for many valleys and that he needed all his tools. In short, he refused.

So we thought for a while and Harmast came up with a plan. Since the exigers leave only a couple of men to guard their horses, we would kill them, then drive away their horses. Then we would hunt down the remaining raiders.

Blind-Knob said that 40 years earlier he had participated in an ambush of the exigers. The villagers had trapped them in a ravine by dropping trees, thus blocking the exits. Then the villagers, numbering about 130, charged the 40 exigers. Though they suffered numerous casualties, they won. He also said that if we killed the raiding party in the winter, they exigers would probably not know whether it had been destroyed by weather or by an ambush.

We opted on a modified version of their plan. We would set up trees as a deadfall to block the exits. Harmast and Norac would bar the way to Mistvale, while the rest of us would open up on them from ambush. Thingol wanted to set up some backward pointing spikes to stop the horsemen from simply jumping over. Though the idea was refused, the villagers started to build a palisade around Mistvale.

We set up a day before the expected attack, since the exigers sometimes came a day early, sometimes a day late, depending on the weather. Gorfang set up the trees to fall, and we got two kids to chop the ropes holding them up. Another kid would signal us when they came in sight, about a minutes warning. We concealed ourselves as best we could, with the villager’s help. And we waited.

But not for long. The lookout whistled and we cast our preparatory spells. Twelve horsemen rode by, each with a long, six foot pole more than half covered with a black substance. Ten of them were in cuirboilli, two of them in ringmail. One of them spotted us and shouted, “Intruders!”

The ropes were cut, and the trees fell perfectly. Harmast and Norac jumped out and stood ready. Worfang Disrupted one of the horses. Borax shot an arrow, which went through a rider’s right leg into his horse’s forequarters. Jankali also shot an arrow, but it bounced of the rider’s shield. Norac, with no weapon in hand, Disrupted a rider in the right leg. Thingol slung, but the stone bounced off a rider’s armor. Enkavar failed to overcome a rider with Disruption. Gorfang jumped out with his hammer and missed a rider. Harmast swung his dagger at a rider and hit him in the right arm. Worfang Disrupted the same rider that Harmast hit. Borax shot another arrow and impaled another horse. Then the two riders wearing ringmail spread one hand and a finger out, uttered some words, and all of a sudden, all of the riders’ poles were aflame.

  1. Worfang, Borax, and Jankali, who were all Agimori. 23 Harmast, Thingol, and Norac, all of whom were white. 24 Gorfang.
  2. Enkavar.

Thingol started to throw a spell. Enkavar’s sling-stone tinked off a shield. The riders all cast a spell. Norac pulled out his weapon and swung, only to be met with a shield. The two riders able to attack did so, but they missed. Borax’s arrow bounced off a shield. Harmast hit his man again and killed him. Jankali pulled out his battle axe but was parried. Gorfang hit the rider who had been shot through his right leg in the same leg. Worfang cast a Protection 5, and then pulled out his spear.

Enkavar’s stone missed. Norac swung mightily and chopped off a left arm. The rider fighting him missed his return stroke. Borax shot another arrow and hit his man in the head. His man swung his pole and hit Borax in the back of the head. His hair immediately ignited, and Borax fell unconscious. What was left on Borax’s head was the tarry substance which had coated the rider’s pole. It continued to burn brightly on his head. Thingol’s spell failed to overcome its target, and then he scooped up some snow and started to smother the fire on Borax’s head. Jankali hit his man in the left arm, but his shield was ignited in return by the man’s brand. Worfang hit with his spear and killed the man who had his left arm chopped off by Norac. Harmast hit another but was parried. In return, his man swung his pole. Harmast failed to parry and his right arm armor was set aflame. Gorfang struck his man again. The rider fell off under another horse’s hooves, and the horse fell too from the arrow being pulled out rather forcibly.

Thingol continued to smother the fire on Borax. Worfang thrust but his spear was parried by a shield. The return swing was expertly dodged. Norac swung at one of the riders who had done the mass Ignite spell and chopped off his head. Another rider swung at him, but Norac parried with his sword. The sword started to burn. Jankali hit his man in the right leg, but in return his shield became an inferno from the two patches of tar on it. Gorfang missed his hammer blow, and his shield was lit. Harmast hit his rider in the abdomen, but the rider swung and Harmast blew his parry again. His right arm armor was hit again, and now it was really burning. Enkavar, who had been taking careful aim, slung and hit one of the riders in the head. The Speedarted stone rendered the rider unconscious.

Enkavar then jumped towards the man he had felled and using his sling as a garrote to strangle his man. Worfang tried to Disrupt one of the ‘priests’, but failed to overcome him.

Thingol, who had finally put out the fire on Borax, started another spell. The rider fighting Jankali hit him. Jankali parried with his shield which by now was nearly consumed. In return, he criticalled his rider. The man parried, but to no avail. He died. Gorfang missed, as did the rider facing him.

Norac hit his opponent in the head, killing him, but not before he had swung and hit Norac’s sword again. Harmast’s opponent swung and set his left arm armor aflame. Harmast then hit his man in the chest. The rider fell off his horse. But Harmast’s right arm was burned into uselessness and his left was starting to hurt. He jumped into the river that flowed along the ravine and cast a Heal Wound on himself. Thingol’s spell failed to overcome the ‘priest’. Jankali’s shield finally was consumed, and his left arm armor, next to the shield, also started to burn.

Enkavar hit a rider in the chest. Worfang’s Disruption overcame one of the ‘priests’, and damaged his right arm. Jankali dropped to the snow, trying to put out the flames. The rider fighting him swung and hit his left arm again, setting it afire in a different place. Norac killed his man before he had a chance to swing back. Gorfang fumbled and twisted his ankle. Worfang’s Disruption failed to overcome the ‘priest’. Thingol successfully overcame the remaining ‘priest’ and the priest’s chest was Palsied. The ‘priest’ though, stayed on back of his horse.

Enkavar’s sling tinked. Jankali still tried to put out the fire, but was hit again in the abdomen, setting that armor afire. Thingol then cast a one-point Treat Wounds on Borax, reviving him. Gorfang criticalled his man in the abdomen, rendering him unconscious. Harmast scrambled out of the river and grabbed a sword. Worfang hit his man with his spear, who fell badly wounded.

Now there were only two riders left alive. One was the ‘priest’, the other was hitting Jankali.

Norac hit the latter, but was parried. He then hit Jankali in the left leg, killing Jankali. Gorfang ran over to help Jankali though his own shield was on fire, but by the time he got there, it was too late. Worfang attempted to Disrupt the ‘priest’, but it failed. Harmast hit the Palsied ‘priest’ in the left

arm.

Norac hit his foe critically, severing the rider’s left arm. Harmast hit the ‘priest’s’ horse,

killing it, and tumbling its rider off and under it. Worfang Disrupted the ‘priest’ in the abdomen. Borax, who ran over to help in the fray, was swung at by the rider, but was missed. Borax swung and hit the man in the abdomen, killing him. Worfang Disrupted the ‘priest’ again, killing him.

So the battle was over. We had killed all the exigers, and killed one horse, and wounded two more. We searched the bodies and went through the pile. There were suits of cuirboilli in every size except for Gorfang and Enkavar. The ‘priests’ who wore ringmail were of average size.26 There were eight scimitars, four broadswords, and twelve daggers. There were of course the poles, but they were rapidly burning away. We also found some magic items, but they were conditioned to be used only by exigers. We gathered the loot and the horses, disposed of the bodies, and headed back to Mistvale.

  1. Five-point ring for SIZ 13.

Chapter2

Mister Exiger, I presume?

When we got back to Mistvale, we held a meeting. The villagers saw that we wanted to fight the exigers, so some of them volunteered to help. Two especially promising villagers were named Acari and Jorj. We decided to train 40 others in assorted weapons.

Blind-Knob told us that since it took some two to three days to get from the exiger stronghold to Mistvale, we probably had about five or six days in which to train before they would send out a scouting party to look for their lost raiding party.

The shaman also came back saying, “I smell blood on the wind. Whose was it?”

We told him it was theirs, except for one person. He seemed pleased that we had killed the raiding party but he also warned us that we had only killed the ‘volunteer’ exigers, the men-at-arms, not the real ones. Nevertheless, he declared he would stay for two days and teach spells. He taught both Jorj and Acari Disruption. He also gave a pain spirit to Worfang to attach to his fetch.

We asked him many questions. We asked how many valleys the Brand clan controlled. He said around eleven, six of them about the same size as Mistvale. Gorfang wanted to know how to find dwarfs in these mountains. The shaman replied that they might not be very helpful, for he suspected that they traded with the exigers. He said that the best place to find them would probably be in the bottom of the Brand stronghold. We asked about what their stronghold looked like. He drew us a quite good drawing of the hold. It was built onto the side of a cliff, with only one path leading to it. It looked quite impenetrable for the moment. Harmast asked if there were any Storm Bull berserkers around. The shaman told us that, though he had heard of them, he had never seen any.27

We asked him if he had any suggestions. He asked if we had any more allies. We said yes, for Simon, Tim, Ferric, and Slagstone were still around. He asked us if we had any tokens that they had owned. We didn’t really have any, but we described them very carefully, and he seemed satisfied. He said he would seek them out, and try to bring them here, though it would probably take two seasons or so. We accepted gratefully.

Many plans were thrown back and forth. Raiding another exiger’s menials to try to start a feud was one. Going to another valley and stopping the raids on that valley and to keep on going until all the Brand valleys were united in rebellion was another. When Harmast learned from the shaman that there was a Joining of the Convergences between the fourth and fifth mountain peaks, he wanted to go, but common sense prevailed, for we would be leaving Mistvale wide open, as well as traveling in winter. We also learned that the trader mountain that we had originally set out for was where the exigers traded with the plains folk.

But while we tried to come up with a plan, we set about the defense of Mistvale. The palisade around Mistvale was finished. The women suggested that we should build areas where the animals, children, and the non-fighting villagers could hide, leaving only the fighters in Mistvale proper. It was a good idea, and Gorfang went off to oversee the construction. We also set up guards up in the mountains around Mistvale. If they saw any signs of exigers, they would signal Mistvale and we would ready ourselves for an attack.

Harmast had taken two of the broadswords for himself. Acari took one too. As to the cuirboilli, Worfang, Thingol, Borax, Acari, and Jorj each took a suit. The ringmail was kept for the time being. Norac trained eight of the villager in scimitar use, plus Acari and another villager in broadsword. Borax taught eight of the villagers in the axe. The rest of the villagers trained in scythe,

maul, and spade use.

After the first five days, nobody had come. Norac sensed a storm in the air, a big storm. The length of the storm plus the time it would take to get to Mistvale from their stronghold seemed to indicate that we had another five days to train and prepare, which we did.

During those ten days, Worfang decided to go off onto the Spirit Plane to try to capture some spirits. He Discorporated, and his fetch guarded his body. The fourth day, he came back because we thought an attack might take place. He brought back with him a Spirit Screen 1 spirit, a Countermagic 3 spirit, and a Detect Magic spirit. When it didn’t he went back onto the Spirit Plane. On the morning of the ninth, he came back. He said that he had encountered a ghoul spirit. He said that he had thought to capture it but he realized that if the spirit successfully possessed someone, the new ghoul would be uncontrolled. Therefore he ignored the ghoul spirit. He said that he also encountered a ghost and a chonchon, both of which he ignored.

But on the tenth day of training, Freezeday, Stasis Week, Storm season in the Theyalan calendar, Pamalt-day, 7th week in the Rainy season (winter), tragedy struck. On the evening of that day one of the guards was going up to relieve one of his comrades when he discovered his headless body. His sword had been broken, and only the hilt half remained. We all raced up to investigate.

The body showed no signs of torture nor did it bear any fire marks. Tracks were found of a single person wearing armored boots. After a quick discussion, Norac went alone to track the intruder.

He followed the tracks for about two hours until he heard the sound of metal on metal. He listened carefully, but he couldn’t tell the direction.

Suddenly out of the darkness jumped a huge figure, wearing full plate and wielding a bastard sword and a hoplite shield. The design on his shield was a spider, and his helmet also bore a spider. The man swung, but Norac parried with his iron bastard sword. Norac’s return swing was an utter failure. Not only did he fail to hit his man, but he hit himself in the stomach, dropped his weapon and lost his next attack and parry!28 On the man’s next swing, Norac died.

But not for long! Norac called on Orlanth to heal him and put his sword back in his hand.

Orlanth granted his request at the cost of three points of POW. The man swung again. Norac missed his parry, and the blow landed on his unprotected body, on his head. He died again.

But again the mighty Norac called on Orlanth to heal him, and again Orlanth granted the request for three more points of POW. The man swung, but Norac parried, and the blow failed to connect. Norac stood up instead of trying to swing from the ground.

The warriors fought back and forth, Norac parrying with his sword, the man with his shield. For a minute they swung at each other until the man slipped through Norac’s guard and thrust his blade into Norac’s abdomen. As it withdrew, Norac felt a burning sensation, and he looked down to see a nasty green coloring starting to tinge his body. Norac swung again, but he was so distraught he lost his next attack and parry.29

While Norac stumbled around, the man stepped back, resting. He said, “Do you surrender to Iul? I have the antidote to the poison!” Norac considered, and shook his head in the negative. Iul swung and despite Norac’s parry, wounded his right arm. Norac’s return swing bounced off Iul’s shield.

Now Iul took his sword and pushed it behind his shield. When he withdrew it, Norac could see it was again coated with a nasty green coating. While he did this, Norac connected solidly, but it bounced off Iul’s armor.

28 Fumble #00, roll three more times on table.

Iul then swung with his newly poisoned blade, but Norac parried the blow and it failed to hit him. Norac’s return swing was a dismal failure, and he lost his next attack.30 But while Norac recovered, Iul stepped back and rested. Then he swung again and connected, despite Norac’s parry, and hit him in the head. Norac’s return hit again bounced off Iul’s shield. Then Norac felt the poison hit him. He successfully resisted the poison31 but still felt its effect32. Iul swung again and hit Norac in the abdomen through Norac’s sword. Again he died. And again he called on Orlanth to heal him completely. Orlanth replied that he would bring him back to life and remove the poison that had not taken effect, but not that poison that had already affected him. It cost Norac seven POW for this miracle.

Iul again rested, while Norac finally began a spell, Bladesharp 5. It went off while Iul was still resting. Norac then stood up. Iul swung, but Norac parried. Norac tried an aimed blow to the head, but he missed. Iul swung, and Norac blew his parry. He dropped his sword again33 This time he didn’t wait. He called on Orlanth to bring him back to Mistvale with his sword. Orlanth granted this miracle for six POW, thus leaving him with a POW of 2 after starting the combat with 21!

While this debacle was going on, the rest of us went back to Mistvale. There we found Norac, looking like something the cat dragged home. He told us his story, but he left out a lot. He told us of the spider on his shield and helmet and the villagers recognized the name and design of Iul — he was a Brand.

Harmast immediately said we should go after this guy. Thingol argued against doing so. He wanted to make sure Mistvale was safe if, when we were off chasing this guy, some other exigers, or even Iul himself came to pillage Mistvale. Harmast sent all the villagers to the hiding places, but Thingol was still not satisfied. Harmast gave Thingol a direct command to join the rest. Thingol obeyed, but under protest.

It took us about four hours to reach the place where Norac had been ambushed, and when we got there, it was midnight. Harmast cast a Detect Enemies, but got nothing. We found Iul’s tracks and Harmast, Enkavar, Borax, and Worfang were all out in front to track.

From out of the darkness came Iul, swinging at Harmast. He connected, and hit Harmast in the left leg with the poison. Norac cast a Disruption which, amazingly, succeeded and overcame Iul in the left arm. Worfang let loose his pain spirit, sending it at Iul. Harmast cast a Heal Wounds, to heal his leg. Gorfang cast a Demoralize at Iul, which also overcame him. Acari started running up to melee. Thingol cast a Light spell, so that everybody could see everybody else. Iul moved and swung at Borax. He parried the blow, and it failed to penetrate. Borax’s return swing was parried.

Worfang Disrupted Iul in the right leg. Norac Disrupted Iul again in the abdomen. The pain spirit did not affect Iul for now.

Harmast, still engaged, swung at Iul, but tinked. Jorj’s Disruption failed. Norac, also engaged, blew his Disruption also. Gorfang, also fighting, missed Iul, who had parried him. Borax swung at Iul, but tinked. Iul swung again at Borax. Borax parried the blow, but it still hit his left leg. Enkavar’s Disruption failed. Worfang finished casting Protection 5 on Harmast. And the pain spirit overcame Iul, draining some magic points.

Harmast disengaged this turn, running back to Thingol, calling for a Neutralize Poison. Iul cast a spell on himself34. Thingol began casting Neutralize Poison. Enkavar’s Disruption failed.

Worfang’s though, hit the chest of Iul. Jorj’s did not overcome Iul. Norac, wisely hitting Iul’s sword, knocked it out of his hands. Borax tinked again. Gorfang also tinked. Worfang cast a Coordination 3 on himself.

  1. Another fumble!
  2. Potency 16.
  3. Taking eight points of general hit point damage.
  4. Making a total of four fumbles in one combat!

Worfang Disrupted Iul again in the chest. Enkavar tried to garrote Iul from behind, but blew it badly. He became another target for Iul to choose from. Iul picked up his sword. Gorfang tinked. Acari, who had finally gotten up to the combat, also tinked. Borax tinked again. Iul swung at Norac, but missed! Thingol finished casting Neutralize Poison, thus removing most of it35. Jorj’s Disruption overcame Iul and hit him in the head. Worfang’s also overcame Iul, but hit him in the chest instead. Norac, who had been aiming for Iul’s head, hit him.

Worfang Disrupted Iul in the abdomen. Gorfang disengaged, somewhat perturbed at his inability to penetrate Iul’s armor. Enkavar failed with his Disruption. Harmast, partially cured, re- engaged Iul. Iul swung again at Norac, but missed, while Norac damaged Iul’s sword. Borax tinked, as did Acari. Norac criticalled his swing, but Iul’s parry blocked it all. Worfang Disrupted Iul in the head. Enkavar’s sling tinked.

Worfang Disrupted Iul in the right arm. Iul started casting a spell, most likely a Heal.

Borax, Acari, Norac, and Harmast all tinked. Worfang Disrupted Iul in the abdomen.

Worfang’s Disruption failed to overcome Iul. Acari Disrupted him in the right leg. Norac hit in the right arm. Jorj Disrupted him in the right leg, whereupon Iul fell over, motionless. Further examination proved him dead.

We discovered that Iul had been wearing chain mail underneath his full plate! His hoplite shield’s poison reservoir was empty. His sword we surmised, was Truesworded with Extension stacked with it. Norac took Iul’s chain mail for himself. After some searching, we found his campsite. He had two ponies and some miscellaneous supplies. The food was simple soldier’s rations. And we found something that chilled us all. There were two wicker baskets that contained pigeons. One held two, the other, only one. We thought about that long and hard.

  1. Thingol removed 11 potency of the 16.

Chapter3

Parley-vous?

Harmast buried Iul in full Humakti fashion. We took his equipment back with us to Mistvale. There we held a council and tried to decide what to do next. Dawn was just breaking on Witch-day of the 7th week of the Rainy season.

We talked for some hours. Gorfang and Harmast were both interested in dwarfs living nearby. The villagers knew of three citadels where ‘rock maggots’ lived. There had always been at least one since 125436. We were told that they never left their citadels. Sometimes the exigers would band together and attack a citadel. Though they would always suffer heavy casualties, in 1347 they destroyed the biggest dwarf citadel known then. Unfortunately, none were within 50 miles of Mistvale.

We also talked about the exigers. It was said that exiger philosophy concerned the red planet in the sky37, though how much it dominated their philosophy was unknown.

Harmast was very interested in attempting to start up a temple to Humakt. He tried to recruit some of the villagers to become initiated. He got Jorj, Borax, and another villager. Norac also tried to recruit, though, being a Wind Lord, he couldn’t form a temple. He got Acari to become a lay member.

We also discussed the implications of the pigeons. We were fairly sure that if Iul had sent a message, it would be about the uprising. Suggestions went from a challenge to a message saying that nothing was wrong, a false alarm. What was finally sent out was a limerick that went like this:

There once was a warrior named Iul We thought he was really a fool

He came in the night And we gave him a fight.

And now there’s no exiger Iul.

It was signed with the Mobility and Death Runes. We tied it to another pigeon and let it fly off. It headed off in the direction of the exiger stronghold.

Since Norac told us that a big snow storm was brewing, we figured that we had about ten days before a war party could get to Mistvale. Norac and Harmast both trained the villagers some more. Gorfang was busy fixing weapons and helping to fortify the outposts. Worfang Discorporated and went onto the Spirit Plane. When he returned on the third day, he had captured a spirit that carried Wasting disease. He Discorporated again and returned on the tenth day with a Repair 3 spell spirit. Borax fought it and captured the spell. We also improved on our guarding setup. We stationed two men at each of the two entrances to the Valley of the Mists with two men to constantly circle the valley.

On the eleventh day after the death of Iul (Empress-day of week 9 in the winter), one of the entrance guards came running to us. He said that there were sixteen warriors just outside the valley and that they had given him a scroll to give to us. Fortunately, one of the villagers read Marit, which is what it had been written in. It was difficult for him to read, for it had been written in diplomatic terms. But he said that it looked like an invitation to a parley. They specifically would like to see the naked warrior and his comrades, who they assumed to be the ringleaders of the uprising.

It was eventually decided that Harmast and Norac would go along with Jorj and Acari as

  1. The year the Red Moon rose.
  2. The Red Moon.

their ‘servants’. The rest of the party would stay in Mistvale along with the 39 warriors. The rest of the villagers we sent to the outposts.

Harmast and the others climbed out to one of the entrances to the Valley of the Mists. There they saw the exiger party. There were five exigers in all. One was wearing a plate helmet and wielding a hammer and a shield that bore the visage of a horned devil, with the horn representing the boss of the shield. Another was wearing lamellar with a horned helmet. This man bore a very strange weapon. It was as long as a sword, but at the end it widened out to about one foot. Another wore chain and carried a bow and battle axe. The fourth wore mixed chain and plate and carried a naginata and a shield bristling with spikes. The last wore lamellar with a spiked helmet and carried a scimitar.

In addition to the exigers, there were ten men-at-arms, plus someone to tend the horses.

Their leader, the one carrying the hammer, slowly stepped forward towards them. In Marit, he spoke to Harmast.

“We came to see if we had honorable foes, one worthy of our mettle.” “So?” replied Harmast.

“Are you?” asked the exiger in return. Harmast didn’t answer that.

“Who do you worship?” asked the exiger. “Humakt,” was Harmast’s reply.

“The sword god?” “Yes.”

“Ah, some of us, in fact, most of us worship Death.”

And then the exiger began a long, boasting speech. Harmast recognized this and knew that, generally, lies were not told.

“I have slain forty-two men in single combat. I have faced the enemy that cannot be conquered seventeen times. I slew the mountain troll alone, hand to hand, with no weapons. I have gone through the fires of Lodril. I have been to the Heart of the Mountain. I have seen a rock maggot. I have faced the war wagons of Kresh and my men didn’t run. I have killed the beast of the war wagons. I have faced the elves of the jungle. I have walked across the Mari Mountains in the dead of winter. I am the sole survivor of the attack by the Kujerung clan. My name is Amadsan.

Who are you?”

Now Harmast spoke.

“I have fought thirty men in a pit, naked, with only a knife. I have fought the mountain trolls. I killed two hot trolls with only a dagger. I fought while my armor was aflame and I was burning. I fought the mad witch in the jungle. I have faced Cacodemon. I have been across the ocean. I have fought the four-handed sword wielders. I am a Sword of Humakt. I am Harmast Nightblade.”

Amadsan seemed impressed when he heard of Harmast’s exploits in the gladiator pits, and when he told how he killed the two trolls.

“Maybe this war will be worthy of our time and trouble! How much honor do you have?”

asked Amadsan.

“That is a question that a man cannot answer for himself. I feel, though, that you lack honor in your dealings with the menials. You should help them and aid…”

“Spare me,” interrupted Amadsan. “I am not here to defend my people; I am here to find out if you are ready to defend yours.”

“Yes, we are,” replied Harmast.

“Our army will be able to get here three days after the new year. Perhaps we could fight over there,” pointing off towards the plains of Mistvale.

Harmast refused the suggestion.

“Well then, where do you want to fight? You did attack us first. Are you so base that you don’t understand the niceties of war?”

“I’m going to fight you till the menials are free from your reign!” “Then shall we have the first battle where I suggested?” asked Amadsan. “No!” cried Harmast.

“Then where?” asked Amadsan.

“We ain’t gonna tell you!” sang Norac. Acari immediately motioned for Norac to shut up.

Harmast and Amadsan both ignored Norac. Harmast tried to communicate to Amadsan that he didn’t fight battles at set places and times. War was fought by surprise.

“We’ll gather our strength, you gather yours. We won’t attack you until the battle,” said Amadsan, after patiently listening to Harmast.

“There won’t be a battle for us,” replied Harmast.

“Do you fight like dogs or like humans?” baited Amadsan. “The day after today is when the war starts.”

“We knew the war was on when you killed our men-at-arms,” said Amadsan. “Name the day you’re ready.”

Simultaneously Harmast said, “We’re ready” and Norac, “Seven months from now.” Amadsan thought for a while. “You think our ways are evil?” he asked Harmast.

“Yes.”

“We think you are evil to kill our men-at-arms, our scout, and to arm the villagers.” Harmast had no reply.

“Speaking of Iul, where is his sword?”

“We buried it with his body, in Humakti fashion.”

“You do have honor then!”

No one spoke for a while as both Amadsan and Harmast thought. Then Amadsan spoke. “We wish to know how you fight. Could we perhaps meet to test our valor?”

Harmast agreed.

“Good! We will not fight until that day. Our men-at-arms will not take tribute from other valleys until the end of winter. It will be a small set battle. How many men shall fight?”

Harmast wanted it just him and Amadsan. Amadsan replied that he would be glad to after the big battle. He also suggested that, during the war, one day per week should be set aside for parleying, and it was decided that Empress-day, today, would be that day. He then stepped back to let Harmast discuss it with the rest of us.

There was some fierce discussion going on when Amadsan stepped forward again.

“I have something to say. Back at our stronghold we have about five men-at-arms per exiger. When we fight, we have five men-at-arms for each exiger. So when we fight, each of our exigers will have five men-at-arms”

That definitely changed the situation. Harmast decided that we would fight two exigers. “Is that all?”

“Yes.”

“Very well. Shall we fight until death or surrender?” “Until surrender.”

“Prisoners or ransom?”

“Ransom. What kind of magic is to be used?” “We usually allow any except for stratagem.38”

So the agreement was made. We would face two exigers and ten men-at-arms on the field of battle, which would take place on Empress-day of the first week of 1623 ST.

Amadsan motioned another of the exigers forward, the one with the strange, flanged sword. “Sword! This is Khanda. He too is a Sword. It is our custom for us to ask questions of our

enemies, which are to be answered truthfully. If you are willing, Khanda will cast an Oath spell on you (Harmast) and him, and you will exchange questions. Our usual number is three. Are you willing?”

After a brief discussion, Harmast decided to ask and answer three.

“Also, if you would, I would like to know how Iul died,” said Amadsan. “But not here and not now.”

Khanda asked his first question, “How many outlanders are there?”

  1. Such as digging trenches throughout the battle field.

“Seven with our greatest warriors to come.39” Harmast asked, “How many exigers are there?”

“Thirty-six now that Iul’s dead. Is the old shaman of the hills on your side?”

“Yes. Do you have any great and powerful magic items that you will use against us?” “Yes. How many and what type of magicians do you have?”

“Two priests, two shamans, one sorcerer, and another on the way. What is that great and powerful magic that you will use?”

“Our greatest magic is the Doorway.”

Now Harmast and Khanda exchanged questions that were not bound by the Oath spell. “Could you be a little more explicit?” asked Harmast. “For instance, what comes through the Doorway?”

“I’m not going to answer that,” replied Khanda. “Well then what does the Doorway do?”

“I’m not going to answer that either.” “Have you ever heard of the Gray Ones?”

“Yes”, replied Khanda, “We even have a dead one in our castle.” Amadsan stepped in.

“If you would like more information, we will tell you if you will tell us how many of the villagers you have armed.”

Harmast, eager for information, agreed and told Amadsan of the thirty-nine we had trained. “What are they and where do they come from?” asked Harmast.

“Well, they have no permanent home”, replied Amadsan. “And they’re not exactly people either. In fact, it’s kind of hard to explain.”

He thought for a moment.

“I’ll tell you what. We’ll take you to our castle, let you examine the remains, let you worship at our temple and free you unharmed if you give us back Iul’s outer armor.”

Harmast agreed.

“Fine! We’ll leave a slave here to guide you back.” And they saddled back on their horses and rode away.

Back at Mistvale, Harmast related the account of the parley. Each of us was allowed to speak regarding the parley. In the end, Harmast decided to take Jorj and Borax with him to initiate them at the exiger’s temple. Thingol asked to go along and Harmast agreed. Gorfang, Enkavar, and

  1. He meant, of course, Simon the Fanatic and Slagstone.

two villagers would go to the nearest valleys to try and recruit more warriors. Norac, Acari, and Worfang would attempt to find the old shaman of the hills.

The slave who had been left behind asked about Jorj, Borax, and Thingol. Harmast said that Jorj and Borax were going to worship at the temple. When asked about Thingol, he said that he was simply going with him. The slave asked, “Would you kill me if the exigers killed him?” pointing at Thingol. He got the message, and Thingol stayed behind, sorrowed.

It took three days on mules to get to the exiger’s stronghold. At the gate, the guard refused entrance to Jorj and Borax unless Harmast gave them the mules, which Harmast did.

Jorj and Borax were both initiated at the temple. They each took a geas and received a gift from Humakt. Jorj took the geas to never lie and in return his sword became extremely strong40. Borax decided never to drink alcohol and in return regained his strength twice as fast41.

In addition to initiating the two, Harmast also told Amadsan how Iul died. Amadsan seemed pleased to know the truth and how bravely Iul had fought.

They also saw the remains of the Gray One. It was withered and gray and seemed almost papery. It was wrapped up in a gray shawl with a monk’s hood.

“My great-grandfather killed it”, said Amadsan. “He came to get the future. He didn’t like what was offered so he killed the Gray One. He was then cursed to do three dastardly deeds before he died.”

Harmast asked what he did and Amadsan replied, “He killed a friend, killed his own slave, and then killed himself.”

After Harmast had recovered all his Rune spells, they left the stronghold. It took them longer to get back without the mules, but they made it back safely.

Meanwhile, Norac, Acari, and Worfang were having no luck in tracking down the shaman.

But this didn’t mean that it was dull going. One morning Acari woke up with his mouth full of something. It was glue! But who had poured it in, and by whose request?

Gorfang, Enkavar, and the two villagers were having more luck. They were able to reach the two villages in the next valleys with no trouble. The villages were Crystal Lake and Stormwood.

Crystal Lake was two days away from Mistvale because of the steep entrance into the valley. The village had forty villagers. Stormwood was only a day away from Mistvale. It had two entrances and 150 people. Each of the villages started to build their own palisade and they convinced twelve villagers from Crystal Lake and thirty-five from Stormwood to come back to Mistvale.

So we trained some more, waiting (or dreading) the day when we would fight the real exigers.

  1. Its armor points were increased by half.
  2. Regain fatigue at twice normal speed.

Chapter4

The First Battle

Two days later, a guard came running towards us again. “Monsters! Monsters! In the hills!

Trolls!” We all grabbed our weapons and made for the entrance, thinking that perhaps it was the mountain trolls and the Hookhill clan had come to raid.

But it wasn’t. It was twenty-six trolls with none other than Slagstone! There was a joyous greeting of him by all who knew him. After the greetings, he told us how he got here.

Divination revealed his child-to-be to be a female troll. Thus, his future was assured. So he spent his days (or rather nights) just sitting around and eating. Some trolls had gone back to Ouori and gotten his son plus all the other animals in the stable except for the avalanche after killing some of the villagers. The queen figured that the child-to-be should learn how to live in the snow.

Therefore a place to live up in the hills would be needed. Slagstone was supposed to go and scout out a suitable location, then kick out all the humans in the immediate vicinity and enslave them.

Before he left, however, the old shaman’s spirit came to the trolls. He was captured and his spirit held. He told them of his mission, and of the need for Slagstone. He was released after swearing many oaths not to harm any trolls. The queen then said that Slagstone should go and help his friends and then take over a place to live. So they traded with the elves of the jungle for furs and he and the twenty-five trolls he persuaded to come with him set off. They encountered no difficulties in getting here.

Well, our prospects definitely looked brighter now. Twenty-six trolls, though still not a match against thirty-six exigers, would definitely help.

Harmast decided to talk with the troll leader (Slagstone was only one of the leaders) named Grokk about the upcoming fight. Grokk replied that if we wanted their help, they wanted something in return. He specifically asked about the ovoid. He thought that it was a Darkness artifact, given that it was black and cold and ‘fuzzy’. He wanted it for the queen.

Harmast went and talked to Tiburo. He said that trolls would probably not make great neighbors but that they might be better than the exigers.

So Harmast went back to Grokk and talked it out. He orated magnificently, explaining the situation in detail. Grokk asked if the humans were to be their slaves. Harmast said no. Grokk thought. He said that they’d take less than the exigers did. Regarding the trolls wanting a place to live, Grokk merely said that no matter what, trolls would live in the mountains. Harmast wisely did not say anything about that. Grokk did remark that we looked like we were in a desperate situation. Again Harmast didn’t say anything.

Meanwhile, the trolls settled in for their stay in Mistvale. They used a vacated barn to sleep in. Unfortunately, they were not housebroken.

Later Harmast again talked to Grokk. He said that the humans and trolls should be friends, and as a token of friendship, we would give them the ovoid. Grokk accepted the gift, joking, “We think we could do it ourselves, but every little bit helps.” Then he said seriously that the trolls would help us and that they would be especially useful at night. He said that we could keep the ovoid for the first fight. They sent six trolls back to the tribe to inform the queen. Grokk also said that he could use any number of trolls for this battle.

Harmast came back to us and told us of what transpired. Worfang wanted to Discorporate, use his Visibility spell and attack one of the two exigers in spirit combat. Harmast disagreed, because that would leave only eleven of us to fight the twelve of them. Thingol, though disappointed about the loss of the ovoid, said that he would cast Damage Resist 6 on three of our warriors. He

also asked Harmast to ask Grokk about the spell book.

It was eventually decided that besides Norac and Harmast, four trolls would fight along with Borax, Acari, and Jorj, and three trained villagers. Harmast went back to Grokk and told him of our request. Regarding the spell book, he said that we could have half now and half when they found a place to live. Whereupon he tore the book in half and gave it to Harmast. He decided on the four trolls we would use.

The Holy Week of 1622 came about and we all participated in the necessary rituals to remake the world.

On the first day of 1623, Worfang decided he would Discorporate and search for more useful spirits. He promised he would be back before the fight.

Finally the day of the battle dawned. But Worfang wasn’t back yet! Each of our four trolls were armed with different weapons. One had a broadsword and shield; another had a two-handed spear; another had a greatsword; and the last had an immense hammer. Generally each had some metal armor covering their head, chest, and abdomen, though some wore metal all over their body.

We had set up on the flattest portion of the valley. Then the exiger party arrived.

Besides the twelve combatants, there were also twelve exigers who had come to watch. One of them was leading along a chain composed of six-inch links a huge, ugly creature. It was gray all over, its hair and skin both. It was stooping over, so we estimated it’s height at about ten feet. It was wielding a maul with a three-foot ball. Two of the exigers started to pound a huge spike into the ground to tether the creature.

One of the combatant exigers was wielding a flanged mace and shield. His helmet had many points on it. He was wearing a mixture of plate and ring, and his name was Fevral. The other wore only leathers, but was carrying two axes. His name was Yanvar.

The ten men-at-arms were each mounted. They were all carrying those poles covered with the stuff that burned. But each pole also had a spear point on it. We started out fifty meters apart.

We waited for about two hours, making small talk, waiting for spirit spells and extended Rune spells to wear off. Then there was ten minutes of spell-casting. Harmast cast a Shield on himself, as did Borax. The trolls all cast Protection, as did Acari and Jorj, who also cast Bladesharp. Thingol had earlier cast the Damage Resist on Acari and two of the villagers.

Enkavar gave the signal to start. Norac cast a Darkwall across most of us. Each of the exiger’s helmets flamed and ignited the men-at-arms’ poles. As the men-at-arms charged towards us, the two exigers started running at full tilt.

Borax had time for one arrow shot, which tinked, then he picked up his weapon42. The ten men-at-arms hit us almost simultaneously. The first villager fumbled his parry and was downed with a wounded left arm. The second also fell, with a maimed left leg. The troll with the two-handed sword, Mull, parried the blow, but missed his return blow. The troll with the hammer, Bash, didn’t dodge and was wounded in the right arm, dropping his weapon. The troll with the broadsword, Rog, was missed, and impaled his man in return. The man died, and Rog got his sword out again. The troll with the spear, Yakut, was also missed. Yakut hit the man’s horse, killing it. The man-at-arm jumped off safely. Norac was missed and hit his man in return. The blow was parried, but it still wounded him. Harmast too was missed, but he didn’t miss his return hit. The man fumbled, though, and fell off his horse with a wounded leg. Acari was hit but parried. The Damage Resistance on him handled what got through. His return blow tinked. Jorj parried his man, and in return, hit the man’s

  1. During this melee, and for all future melees, the convention of recording events in strike rank order has been suspended — Editor.

horse. The third villager was not attacked so he hit a rider in his abdomen. Borax’s parry and Shield tinked the incoming blow as was his blow. It was then that we noticed that the spear points that had hit people had broken off, and that now the men-at-arms were using their poles to set us afire, even if they still had spear points still attached.

Yakut tried to Demoralize Fevral, but it was stopped by Countermagic. He also critically dodged the incoming blow and hit his man’s horse. Mull parried, but missed the return shot. Bash dodged and continued to Heal his arm. Rog parried with his shield, which was set afire. This flustered him so much that he missed his blow. Fevral and Yanvar had by now reached us, with Fevral facing Norac and Yanvar, Harmast. Norac hit Fevral, who parried. Fevral hit43 but Norac parried. The horseman hit Norac also, tinking yet setting his left leg on fire. Yanvar, whose axes were both aflame by now, attacked Harmast twice. His first blow was parried. Harmast then hit, but Damage Resistance44 stopped it. Acari, who was helping Harmast, hit Yanvar critically, but again the Damage Resistance stopped it. Yanvar’s second blow missed. Jorj missed his parry and was hit in the left leg, setting it afire. Jorj’s return blow again hit the horse, which died. The rider jumped off, facing Jorj. The third villager didn’t parry, and got hit in the left leg, setting it afire too. Borax parried a blow with his shield, setting it on fire and missed his return blow. Enkavar decided to throw a snowball at the fire on Norac’s leg. He missed and Gorfang started running out towards Enkavar.

Mull parried the blow aimed at him, but again missed his return shot. Bash blew his dodge and was hit in the left leg. His return blow knocked the man off his horse. Rog dropped to the snow and tried to put out the fire on his shield. Yakut’s man fumbled and twisted both his ankles as he stood up in the stirrups. In return, Yakut killed his horse. The other horseman ignored Rog and hit at Yakut. The blow hit and Yakut’s left arm was on fire. Norac missed his blow as did the horseman. Fevral, however, didn’t, and Norac missed his parry. Norac fell down, with a large wound in his head. Harmast tried a Sever Spirit on Yanvar. Unfortunately, it failed to overcome him. Yanvar then hit twice, missing twice. But before he could hit again, Harmast’s blow got through Yanvar’s Damage Resistance to maim his left leg. Yanvar fell down. Acari, who went back to hitting horsemen, dodged a horseman’s blow, and hit him back in the left leg, causing the rider to fall off. While Gorfang was running out towards Enkavar, one exiger stepped forward, just in case. Jorj blew his parry and was hit, setting his abdomen on fire. His return hit tinked off the horseman’s parry. The third villager was hit again, and he fell over. Borax hit his man, but it tinked. The return blow set his shield afire.

Mull’s parry chipped his man’s pole. His blow, however, was not parried. It hit his right arm, forcing him to drop his pole. He then pulled out a scimitar with his left. Bash hit his man and injured him in the abdomen. Yakut continued to put out the fires on his armor. Rog missed his parry, but so did the man’s attack. Rog’s attack though was a critical hit to his horse. Scratch another horse. Acari hit the fallen rider in the abdomen. There was no parry, so he died. Harmast hit Fevral, but he parried and so the blow tinked. Harmast parried a critical hit from Fevral, but still took some damage to his left arm. Yanvar failed to cast a Heal spell. Jorj also spent time putting out the fires on him. He only managed to put out the fire on his leg, not the one on his abdomen. That left the man Jorj had been engaging to ignore him and hit Harmast from behind. fortunately, Harmast’s armor stopped the blow. Borax critically hit his man’s horse, killing it. By this time, the fire on Norac’s leg and his head wound managed to finish him off. He called on Orlanth to heal him. Orlanth decided to grant his request, but carried his soul off.

Mull missed again while the man he was facing healed himself. Bash had no immediate foes to engage, so he hit a man-at-arm who was trying to get up. He smashed the man’s right leg, who promptly fell unconscious. With no more fires on his body, Yakut moved over behind Fevral. Acari dodged a blow then struck back. He hit in the abdomen, felling his man. Rog swung at a man-at- arm, hitting him critically. The man fell, nearly split in two. The man behind Harmast missed his blow. Fevral hit Harmast, but he parried. Harmast’s return blow was parried and stopped. Yanvar

  1. With a Bludgeon 10 (!) on his mace.
  2. Intensity 19!

managed to heal himself and then stood up. Jorj’s attempt to cast a spell failed. Borax hit another man in the abdomen, who fell over.

Harmast now cast a Heal Wound spell, nearly restoring him. Mull faced off the man with the scimitar. Mull missed his blow, but the man didn’t. However, the force of Mull’s parry was such that it shattered the man’s scimitar. He was now weaponless. Bash, wading through the downed men was hit by a standing man, setting his left arm aflame. His blow was parried, but still managed to wound the man’s right leg. Rog started to run behind Yanvar as Yakut stabbed with his spear. It impaled Fevral in the right leg, passing cleanly through it. Fevral fell in agony as Yakut regained his spear. Harmast now faced Yanvar. Harmast fumbled his parry letting Yanvar’s hit tear off Harmast’s right arm armor, wounding it so that he had to drop the sword in his right hand.

Nevertheless, Harmast hit him in the right leg, causing Yanvar to fall over again. The man hitting Harmast from behind tinked again. Acari hit the man hitting Harmast. The blow was parried and stopped. Borax’s blow tinked and he in turn was missed by his foe. Harmast, seeing Fevral and Yanvar down, called out for a halt to allow the exigers to surrender. While Harmast waited, the exiger party all started to Heal themselves.

Mull started to move to where there were more people to fight. Bash smashed another man’s left leg, knocking him unconscious. Yakut plunged his spear again into Fevral’s left arm, killing him. Acari dodged a man’s blow and struck back. The blow was critically parried. Rog struck Yanvar, hitting him in the head, knocking him unconscious. Borax hit his man in the head, slightly wounding him through the parry. The man was flustered enough to totally miss Borax.

Just then one of the exigers cried out, “Cease fighting!” Another of the exigers stepped forward calling, “Nightblade.” Harmast stumbled out to meet him, covered in blood and sweat.

“The fight is over. You have won. You can have the dead and crippled horses. Can we have the live ones?” asked the exiger.

“Yes,” was Harmast’s reply. “Can we have Fevral’s body?” “Yes.”

Some exigers came forward and dragged Fevral’s body back over to their side of the field. “What do you want for Yanvar? His armor?” he joked, for Yanvar wore no metal armor. “What would you ask for him if you were in my place?” asked Harmast.

“Don’t ask me,” said the exiger.

Harmast came back to us as we all came on the battlefield. Thingol wanted magic items, but Harmast wanted most of all to arm the villagers with better weapons. He went back to the exiger.

“Thirty broadswords,” was Harmast’s reply.

“Very well. How about five more for Yanvar’s axes?” asked the exiger. “Okay.”

“You can keep the men-at-arms,” said the exiger as the remaining men-at-arms, shocked at this statement, cried out in protest. “What are you going to do with them, if I may ask?”

“We’ll take them,” was Harmast’s reply.

“We’ll be here with the swords next Empress-day. Please don’t ambush our caravan.” “We won’t,” was Harmast’s reply.

And than the exigers, taking the horses and the huge humanoid, left the valley.

If we hadn’t known better, we might have thought that Norac had died of heart failure. His body was untouched by the battle. Harmast decided that he would make a temple to Humakt of Norac’s iron bastard sword. As the trolls made short work of the dead horses, Harmast prepared to kill the surviving men-at-arms, some six in all. Two of them said that they worshipped the Sword god and asked for a Humakti duel for their lives. Harmast, though not bound to accept the challenge, did so. Both of them cheated in the duel, and both lost their lives with no injury to Harmast.

So all in all perhaps the victory might have been sweeter had not Norac died. But with his death, the victory might be called a pyrrhic one.

Chapter5

The Thrill of Victory?

The day after the battle, Pamalt-day of Week 1, 1623 ST, Harmast called us all together. He said that we needed some way to handle the horsemen who had charged us in the previous battle.

We suggested pikes to use the horses’ charges against them. He agreed and we started to train some villagers in their use. Harmast also wanted to do something about making sure that the exigers would come into the valley from the direction we wanted them to. Suggestions of blocking the entrances we thrown out, but the horsemen could simply ride down the valley sides, taking some losses from the steep sides. It was pointed out that the sides of the valley housing Crystal Lake were much steeper and would induce heavier losses, but that valley was much too small to house the population of both Crystal Lake and Mistvale.

The next Empress-day, the exigers delivered the 35 swords as promised.

That day, Harmast got 35 of our trained militia to join Humakt as initiates. He initiated them at the temple that Harmast had set up. He immediately set them to learning the sword, using the ones we had gotten from the exigers. He also started the training of the villagers in the use of the pike. Since Gorfang was intensely interested in trying to get help from the dwarfs around here, Harmast decided to send an expedition to look for them. Gorfang, Borax, and nine Humakti (who had started to call themselves Harmasti) went off in search. They left on Gata-day of Week 2.

And what of Worfang? He finally returned on Ga-day of Week 3 with a friend. We learned from him why he had been gone so long.

On the Spirit Plane, he had gotten lost and found himself in the outer region. There he fought a madness spirit which attacked him, but released it. Then he captured an Ironhand 4 spirit and brought it back to us.

Making his way back to the frontier region, he met another shaman. His name was Mugumma and that he was an Agimori of the Flintspear clan. He said that he had been captured by the exigers and that he was in a caravan being taken back to the exiger stronghold along with other slaves. He said that every night he had Discorporated to look for help. He asked Worfang for help, and got a tentative agreement. Mugumma said that the caravan was accompanied by a couple of dozen of what we called men-at-arms and no exigers.

They discussed how they could free Mugumma from the caravan. Finally they decided on a plan. One night, while they were both Discorporate, they both cast Visibility and appeared before a startled guard.

“Ghosts!” he managed to call out before the two of them had reduced his magic points to zero. Worfang inhabited the guard’s body.

Some more guards came over just as Mugumma tried to disappear from sight. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah,” replied Worfang in the guard’s body. “I only just managed to drive off that ghost!” After more assurances that he was okay, the guard leader decided that everybody should patrol in pairs. The guard leader shouted, “Arnold! Come over here and guard with Fred!” pointing at Worfang.

Worfang/Fred tried all he could to get Arnold to go away so that he could free Mugumma’s body. Finally he launched a desperation plan.

Arnold.

“Let’s go check the prisoners,” said Worfang/Fred. “Okay!” replied Arnold.

So they walked over to where they kept Mugumma’s body.

“Shall we kill him? He’s big and strong. Let’s kill him, it’ll teach him a lesson,” said

“But he’s locked up! We can’t have any fun with him first!” said Worfang/Fred. “But you know that only the boss has the keys.”

“Well, you wait here, I’ll see if I can get them from him.”

And Worfang/Fred tried to spot which of the men could be the boss. He failed, and came

back to Arnold.

“Well, that’s all right. We’ll just chop off his hand and that’ll free him,” said Arnold. Mugumma, who by this time had re-inhabited his body, was quite startled.

“It’s either your wrist or your head,” said Arnold. Mugumma had no choice. Chop. “Now let’s keep the hand for a few minutes so it can’t be put back on.”

Worfang/Fred volunteered to keep it. But while they marched Mugumma off, Worfang/Fred tried to Heal it surreptitiously. He managed to do it, but Arnold spotted him.

Worfang immediately left Fred’s body, causing Arnold to cry out to Mugumma, “What did you do to Fred? I’m gonna kill you!” He drew out his scimitar, and hacked at Mugumma. He hit Mugumma full in the chest, and Mugumma fell over. Meanwhile Worfang cast Visibility again and attacked Arnold.

“It’s back!” Arnold managed to cry out before Worfang possessed Arnold’s body too. A quick Heal to Mugumma and off they went.

But not far. The guards that Arnold’s cry had summoned were standing around them. “I got this thing well in hand”, said Worfang/Arnold.

“Shut up!” said the boss. Then the other guards beat up Mugumma for no particular reason. They broke many of his bones.

“Let me take him out for a while!” said Worfang/Arnold. “I want to kill him for taking out

Fred!”

With this and other encouraging words, Worfang/Arnold managed to convince the boss to

let him take Mugumma out and work him over.

“But only for ten minutes!”

Of course, as soon as they got out of sight of the guards, they ran for their lives. After five harrowing days, they made it back to Mistvale.

But of course Worfang was in Arnold’s body. This caused much confusion until Worfang proved himself. Then he went back to his own body, which was emaciated from lack of food and water. We later questioned Arnold after he had recovered.

Whenever he became reluctant to talk, the trolls offered a lot of persuasion. He said that he did indeed belong to the Brand clan. He had been on the plains all winter long, gathering slaves to take them back to the stronghold. When asked about the huge gray humanoid, he said that the exigers called him the ‘Gray Man’. He said that he had never actually seen him, but he thought that perhaps the exigers used him for Tapping. He did know, though, that it had an excellent sense of smell. We asked him about the Doorway. He said that he had never heard of it. When threatened some more, he said that the exigers had secrets that they didn’t tell their men-at-arms. Harmast ordered Arnold to draw the layout of the stronghold. He did, but Harmast figured that this was a fake. Finally, we stripped him of his armor and weapons and released him.

But around the middle of the afternoon, the scouts we had out started blowing their horns wildly. We didn’t wait to see what it was, but immediately started moving all the women and children up to the outposts. The report from a breathless scout was that there was a whole bunch of men, more than a hundred, coming toward the valley. And, oh yes, the Gray Man was with them too.

Hastily we assembled our force and met them outside the valley, in a kind of ravine with a river running beside it. It turned out that there were 16 exigers, the Gray Man, plus about a hundred men-at-arms. If we expended all of our forces, we would have us, 26 Harmasti, and the twenty trolls. Not encouraging odds.

Chapter6

The Second Battle

As they approached where we had set up, they exigers got off of their horses and started heading towards us. The exiger leading the Gray Man unlocked his chain and he immediately ran towards us. Worfang and Mugumma had both Discorporated and headed for the Gray Man, hoping to possess it and wreak havoc on the exigers. Enkavar, trying to confuse its sense of smell, cast an Illusionary Odor on its collar. It had no obvious effect.

By now Worfang and Mugumma had both reached the Gray Man. They attempted to initiate spirit combat with it, but bounced off of a Spirit Block of at least two points. Grokk cast Blindness 2 at the Gray Man, but the spell bounced off a Spell Resistance sorcery spell.

Now 20 Befuddle spells shot towards Worfang and Mugumma. Neither of them had any Countermagic up, and both were Befuddled. Slagstone and the exiger he was fighting tinked off of each other as did five of the six troll warriors present. Grokk was slightly wounded in the abdomen, but continued to fight. The Gray Man missed Harmast, who damaged the Gray Man’s weapon. His return hit tinked. Acari also tinked with his exiger.

The exiger that Slagstone was fighting put a Fireblade on his weapon. Both of them tinked off each other though. Grokk was injured again in the abdomen, but tinked off his opponent. Of the six trolls, two of them fell wounded, but one managed to wound an exiger. The Gray Man criticalled Harmast in the left leg. He parried, but the blow landed and he was knocked backwards five meters. Acari again traded blows with the exiger to no effect. Worfang managed to shake off the effects of the Befuddle and then cast Countermagic 3 on himself.

Harmast, on the ground, cast Heal Wound on himself. Slagstone criticalled the exiger facing him. The exiger didn’t parry, and the blow landed in his stomach, chopping him in two. Mugumma shook off the Befuddle, then tried to engage an exiger in spirit combat. He failed and was Befuddled again for his effort. Worfang cast Protection 5 on Harmast. Grokk was hit in the left leg and despite his parry, his leg was injured enough to make him fall over. Two more trolls were wounded and one died, but another killed an exiger. Some of the Harmasti started to take the place of felled trolls. Acari again traded blows with his exiger.

Since Slagstone had felled his man, he became the target of an exiger wielding a bow. Three Firearrows (!) sped his way. The first criticalled him in his left arm. The second hit him in the abdomen. He just managed to cast Heal Wound before the third one impaled him in the abdomen, causing Slagstone to fall, wounded badly. Another troll was wounded, and another died, but again, another killed an exiger. The Harmasti fought the exigers two on one and held their own though a few fell wounded. The Gray Man approached Harmast who was fighting with a Harmasti. The Gray Man killed the Harmasti in one blow while Harmast tinked off his armor and skin. Acari again traded blows with his exiger. Worfang engaged an exiger in spirit combat and overcame him, draining the exiger’s magic points.

The bowman, apparently out of magic points, pulled out an axe. Grokk began to Heal himself, while parrying his opponent. The Gray Man missed Harmast, but Harmast parried and severely damaged the Gray Man’s flail. Harmast’s attack hit the Gray Man on its head, wounding it. Acari continued to trade blows. Three trolls died, but one killed yet another exiger. Mugumma shook off the Befuddle that was affecting him, but since he didn’t have many magic points left, decided to head off the battle field. Worfang failed to overcome the exiger’s magic points.

Slagstone began to crawl towards the rear, badly in need of healing.

Two valiant Harmasti managed to overcome an exiger and killed him. Grokk, now healed, traded blows with an exiger. Harmast was hit in the abdomen by the Gray Man and, despite his parry, was knocked backwards again. The exiger fighting Acari finally managed to penetrate,

slightly wounding his left arm. Acari’s blow was parried. One troll was wounded, but his exiger was wounded also. Worfang, seeing Acari injured, broke off spirit combat to throw a Protection 5 on him.

Grokk missed his parry and had his right leg chopped off. While Harmast was being healed, a Harmasti criticalled the Gray Man in it’s left leg. The blade penetrated deeply, and the Gray Man fell over. Acari, though he parried again, fell from a hit in the chest. More Harmasti were wounded as they joined the front line of battle.

The Gray Man pulled out the sword that had impaled it. An exiger was next to him ready to heal him, but one of the few trolls remaining wounded him before he could complete the spell.

More Harmasti died, but so did an exiger.

The battle ended after Harmast returned to battle and broke the Gray Man’s flail. He then retreated off the battle field, the remaining exigers following. With both sides exhausted, a temporary truce was called.

The accounting went like this. Thirteen trolls went to their deaths, along with fourteen Harmasti. In return we had killed nine exigers.

Later, as night fell on the valley, Enkavar quietly stole into the exiger’s camp to see what was going on. Though he didn’t sneak around, what he saw gave all of us shivers. He said that there were a lot of rituals going on, and that he noticed people whom we thought we had killed in the battle. Great, just great.

When Worfang heard the news, he immediately headed out of the valley with not a word to the rest of us.

Harmast told Tiburo that we would all retreat to the outposts, evacuating Mistvale entirely except for a small holding force. We learned that our food would last until the end of spring. So except for a small force to cover the retreat, we evacuated Mistvale. It was done orderly, quickly, and best of all, quietly. Harmast had two groups of five Harmasti head off to Crystal Lake and Stormwood to ask for any help they could give. Slagstone and Grokk sent two trolls back to the tribe to inform the queen of the new situation. We also took the sword that marked the site to Humakt.

Later that night, the covering force came back, saying that the exigers were starting to move in towards Mistvale. That morning, Gata-day of the third week, we saw a pillar of smoke rising over the ruins of Mistvale. We sat all that day, trying to get things settled down in the outposts. Harmast had separated the villagers from the rest of us, leaving the Harmasti to guard the villagers.

Our scouts noticed that the exigers sent out detachments of men at arms, about a dozen, both mounted and on foot, to patrol and search. The exigers had brought seven wagons that presumably held supplies. We had thoughts of destroying their supplies or ambushing one of their supply trains, but we didn’t know how often they were resupplied.

On Empress-day, the truce day, six wagons escorted by thirty men at arms arrived in the exiger’s armed camp. It was obviously their supply train. All this day we thought about what we should do, waiting for the best moment to strike.

The break we had been waiting for finally came. The very next day, a scout ran back, saying that there was something going on down in the exiger’s camp. He said that about forty men at arms, six exigers, and two wagons had left the valley. We asked if the Gray Man had gone with him, but the scout didn’t know. Our other scouts said that they were headed in the general direction of Crystal Lake. Harmast sent five scouts to follow them and make sure that they didn’t double back to Mistvale, and asked Worfang, who had returned from his flight, to Discorporate and warn Crystal Lake. It took him five hours to get there and back.

Meanwhile, we had come up with a plan. We would attack their lessened force at night to try to retake Mistvale and kill the exigers. We had 32 militia and 11 Harmasti plus the eight of us.

Harmast decided that he would use Norac’s iron sword, which means that he had three swords.

It was the early morning of Witch-day as we headed back into the Valley of the Mists. On the way, we had a curious encounter. Up a tree, Harmast thought he heard the sounds of metal clashing together, like swords. Slagstone’s Darksense detected nothing, but when Worfang looked up, he was temporarily blinded by his Second Sight ability. Jorj quickly climbed up the tree, but all he found when he got to the top was a scarred branch.

We quickly approached the exiger’s camp. It seemed that we had taken them by surprise, for we encountered no patrols of any sort. When we got within 100 meters, we cast our defensive spells. At 50 meters, though, we were met by five exigers and the Gray Man. Harmast shouted for the militia to bypass the exigers and attack the men at arms, but for only half of the Harmasti to stay with us. The Gray Man and all the exigers except one charged towards us. The exiger that hung back fired two Firearrows, hitting Slagstone and Mull. Harmast threw one of his three swords at the closest exiger, but it tinked.

One of the exigers obviously had his bow. The other four had a two-handed spear, a sword and shield, a long, wicked scythe, and a naginata and multi-spiked shield, both of which were flaming. Enkavar cast a Speedart and fired his sling. It bounced. Two Harmasti faced the exiger with the spear together. One fell over, wounded. Jorj and a Harmasti were also fighting the exiger with a sword and shield. The exiger hit the Harmasti, but the Harmasti parried. Jorj hit the exiger, but it tinked. Harmast, facing the exiger with the scythe traded blows using the iron sword to parry with. Acari and another Harmasti were fighting the exiger whose naginata and shield were aflame. The exiger tinked off of Acari, but he landed a blow on the exiger’s head, wounding him. The Harmasti tinked and was missed in return. Slagstone and Mull, the troll with the two-handed sword faced the Gray Man. The Gray Man missed Mull while Slagstone, using a mace and shield, wounded the Gray Man’s right arm. The Harmasti bounced off its armor. Worfang now started to run forwards, to help in the melee. Enkavar fired his sling again, but again it tinked.

The spearman exiger now tried to hit the Harmasti who had fallen. He hit, but the downed Harmasti parried. The other one tinked. Jorj hit his man, but the exiger fumbled his parry and took a wound to his right leg. The Harmasti with him tinked. Harmast traded blows with the scythe- wielding exiger. The exiger with the naginata fumbled his attack, twisting his ankle and losing his left leg armor. Acari responded by knocking the man unconscious with a blow to the head. The Gray Man now tried to hit Slagstone. It missed, but Slagstone didn’t, wounding him again in the head. Thingol had attempted a Neutralize Magic on the naginata’s fire, but it failed to overcome the magic points of the fire spell.

The exiger with the bow now fired again. His two arrows hit the Harmasti who had been fighting the spear-wielding exiger. The first one felled him, the second one killed him. Worfang, who had taken the place of the two Harmasti, was stabbed at. He expertly dodged the blow then impaled his own spear in the exiger’s left leg, where it stuck. The other Harmasti, who had Healed himself, tinked. Jorj fell unconscious from a blow to his right arm despite the Harmasti next to him trying to parry for Jorj. The Harmasti then tinked. Harmast again traded blows to no effect. The Gray Man hit Slagstone but despite his shield parry, took damage to his right arm and was knocked backwards three meters.

Worfang dodged the spear-wielding exiger’s blow, then attempted to disengage, since he was weaponless. The Harmasti hit the exiger, wounding him slightly. The Harmasti fighting with Jorj tinked off the exiger’s armor and had his left arm chopped off in return. Harmast was still trading blows with the scythe exiger. Acari, who had come over to help Harmast, hit the exiger in the abdomen, to no apparent effect. Mugumma tried to Ignite the Gray Man’s hair but failed.

Enkavar fired his sling at the exiger’s bow, hoping to break it. Amazingly, he hit it, but failed to damage it. The Gray Man hit Mull again, but he parried and was not knocked back.

The exiger whom Worfang had impaled took the spear out of his leg while the Harmasti engaging him tinked again. Slagstone, who had come over to engage the exiger using the sword and shield, knocked the exiger back a meter. Harmast hit, but the scythe-wielding exiger caught the sword in his scythe and wrenched it out of Harmast’s hands. Harmast parried the scythe’s blow.

Acari then critically impaled the scythe-wielding exiger in the abdomen, killing him, but his sword stuck in the body. The bowman, who had first inspected his bow for damage, then fired a Firearrow at Acari. Fortunately, it tinked. Worfang made it to the exiger whose naginata was still on fire and picked it up. The Gray Man missed Mull and Mull tinked in return.

More Firearrows flew towards Acari, critically impaling him in the right leg. Another arrow felled another Harmasti, though not killing him. Slagstone and Mugumma faced the sword and shield exiger. He impaled Slagstone in his left arm, but while he pulled out the sword, Slagstone’s mace came crashing down on his head, knocking him unconscious. Mugumma ineffectually tinked. The Gray Man missed and was tinked in return by Mull. Worfang stabbed at the Gray Man with his Firespear, but was parried. A Harmasti also hit the Gray Man and impaled him in the left arm, where he left his sword. Enkavar slung at the spear-using exiger, but tinked. Harmast, with no opponents, started running towards the exiger with the bow. He was hit by another Firearrow, but it tinked.

The exiger with the spear, with nobody to stop him, started to run away. Slagstone moved to engage the Gray Man. Thingol finally managed to Palsy the bow-wielding exiger in the abdomen. The Gray Man killed the Harmasti facing him as Worfang, realizing he was overmatched, plunged his spear into the exiger he had gotten the naginata from, killing him.

The Gray Man, perhaps realizing that he was all alone, also started to run away. Harmast, who had reached the bowman exiger, started to hack on him, hitting his left leg. To everyone’s surprise, the exiger then stood up. However, after a length of time, Harmast and Slagstone managed to destroy the undead exiger, by systematically smashing every bone he had.

When the militia returned, they had a story to tell us. They had caught most of the men-at- arms asleep or unprepared. They killed sixteen of them, then the rest of them broke and run. But something they noticed was that when the men at arms fled, something very big and dark rose and fled too.

In this battle, we lost four Harmasti, six militia men, and two trolls, one of them being the troll shaman. However, we had killed four exigers and forced them away from Mistvale. We of course looted the bodies. We had sixteen sets of weapons and armor from the dead men-at-arms. We also had the same from the exigers we killed. Acari took a set of chain and lamellar for his own. We found on the exigers some magical items. The scythe that the exiger had been using was found to have some iron in it. One of the exiger’s helmets had an enchantment on it, and a spirit bound inside it. The undead exiger had three magic point storing crystals on him. They stored eight, six, and six magic points respectively. Harmast gave the eight point crystal to Thingol, the others to Worfang and Mugumma. We also searched the wagons left behind. One of them was filled with big barrels of different liquids. One of them was obviously oil, the rest were unrecognizable.

After we had searched through all the spoils, we spent the rest of the day bringing it all back to our outposts. That evening the two parties we had sent out to Crystal Lake and Stormwood returned with food, but no men. We were in such a happy mood that we were very grateful for just their helping out. The next day, the men at arms that the militia had driven off returned. They sat around until twenty more men at arms, perhaps long-range patrols, came back to the valley. Then they left the valley, sending ten towards Crystal Lake, the rest heading back to the fortress.

We had a large celebration with much happiness, for had we not retaken the valley even if Mistvale was in ruins? And had we not killed some of the exigers, who had oppressed the valleys for a long time?

Early the next morning, as Harmast was getting up, he heard a strange sound. To him, it

sounded like the caw of a crow if it were made of metal. He looked around and saw a raven. It’s feathers were blades of iron, but otherwise it looked normal. Harmast said, “Greetings! Who are you? Are you here to help or hinder?”

The raven made no response. Harmast cast Second Sight and was blinded by the aura emanating from the raven.

“There is a grave abomination opposing you Harmast”, it croaked. “They are false!” “You mean the exigers”, asked Harmast.

“They are false, they worship false gods Harmast. They are Abomination. No one was ever immortalized because of despair.” And then it flew off. Harmast was left to ponder on this.

Chapter7

The Shell Game

The same day that Harmast had his visit, Ga-day of Week 4, Worfang Discorporated to check out Crystal Lake. When he returned, he said that he saw around 80 men-at-arms and exigers plus about 40 villagers were building a palisade to defend themselves from attack.

While Worfang was gone, Thingol and Acari did some experimenting on the barrels found in the exiger’s wagons. There were three kinds of substances: one was some pebbles, another was a clear liquid, and the last was an opaque liquid that Thingol recognized as oil. Mixing the two liquids together was difficult as the oil tended to quickly settle out of the mixture. Of course the oil burned, and so did the clear liquid, but not the mixture of the two. Grinding down the pebble and adding them to the mixture produced a runny, black mixture that looked superficially like the exiger’s fiery substance, but it didn’t burn either. Further experimentation proved useless.

Now we had a choice. We could attempt to liberate Crystal Lake or strike somewhere else. We finally decided that we would attack Crook Halt and destroy any resistance that might be there. We left on Gata-day and reached Crook Halt just as darkness fell. We consisted of Harmast, Thingol, Slagstone, Worfang, Acari, Jorj, Grokk, and the 7 Harmasti. We camped for the night.

The next day was Empress-day and Harmast refused to attack on that day, honoring the truce. So we sat all day and spied on the village. There was nothing to indicate the presence of any exigers or men-at-arms. However, later in the day, a squad of riders came into the valley. They called all the men of the village together and then they started to build something. It was a palisade. During the afternoon, about twenty more riders came in. We could see that some of them were only slaves however. Two of these twenty or so were wearing armor, but we couldn’t tell if it was exiger- style armor.

Harmast refused to attack until dawn of Pamalt-day, that being his definition of when Empress-day ended. We snuck in towards the still incomplete palisade. We weren’t exactly quiet, but only one man looked out at us. We just put our fingers to our lips and passed him by. Half an hour before dawn, we heard some shouting and metal clanking from inside the palisade. Then, half an hour later, we attacked only to be met by ten spear-wielding men-at-arms and nineteen unarmored but not unarmed slaves who had formed outside the palisade.

While we were 100 meters away, six of the slaves aimed their crossbows at us. They all shot simultaneously and all of the bolts were Firearrowed. One hit Grokk in the right leg, dropping him. The others hit Acari in the abdomen, Jorj in the abdomen, and Worfang in the chest.

We ran through this fire and got to within 40 meters of them. The six slaves were busy cranking their crossbows while the rest of the men were readying themselves. As we closed to within striking distance, two of the crossbowmen broke and ran, dropping their crossbows. Six of the spearmen, however, engaged us, except for Thingol and Worfang, who stayed back voluntarily, and Grokk, who was Healing himself. The rest of the men split off into three groups.

Harmast threw one of his swords at one of the crossbowmen. It hit the man’s arm and he dropped his crossbow. Worfang attempted a Disruption at one of the engaged spearmen, but it bounced off a Countermagic.

The three crossbowmen who had finished reloading then fired again. They all missed, then they backed away with their crossbows. Acari hit his man in the head. Harmast chopped a leg off. Slagstone hit twice, both times chopping off limbs, but was hit by a pole-carrying man-at-arm, and his left leg armor was set afire. The other two groups were now attempting to outflank our force.

In response, three Harmasti engaged one of the groups, Slagstone and three more Harmasti

towards the other. Harmast broke through the ranks and headed for the crossbowmen. A Harmasti killed one of the spearmen after the man had hit himself in the right arm. Another Harmasti was wounded in the leg and fell. Jorj tinked off his man and had his left arm armor set afire in return. Worfang, who had run up to engage, knocked a man down with a spear to his left leg. He dodged the return blow. Acari damaged his foe’s spear. Harmast felled a slave with a sword slash across the abdomen. Slagstone felled a spear-wielder with his mace. Thingol’s spell failed to go off. The other Harmasti group knocked a man unconscious.

Of the four crossbowmen left, two shot at Harmast, both missing. Harmast shouted at them to surrender, then withheld his attack to let the slaves decide.

Our victory became a rout. They all broke and ran. Of the initial 29 men we faced, 16 escaped. They all headed off in the direction of Orange Fire. We captured four men, a crossbowman slave, two pole-using men-at-arms and a shovel-wielding slave. More importantly, we recovered six bags of the tarry substance that the men-at-arms covered their poles with. We interrogated the prisoners, asking about the recipe for the substance. The slave shrugged his shoulders, the men-at-arms said that they didn’t know. We decided that instead of killing them, we stripped them of their armor and weapons and let them go. They headed back towards the exiger stronghold.

We found the village headman and asked him about Orange Fire. He said that several hands of warriors went through Crook Halt to go to Orange Fire.

We thought it wise not to go to Orange Fire. We decided to head to Silvereye going back through Mistvale. Harmast persuaded twelve of the men to join our cause. And so off we went.

On the way back, on Six-day, we heard a column of men coming towards us down the gorge. We quickly hid, but two of the new volunteers failed to hide. From around a bend came five exigers and thirty men-at-arms. They quickly noticed the two men and took them along for questioning. We thought it was the force from Crystal Lake going back home.

We made it back to Mistvale on Ga-day of the fifth week of spring. The villagers figured that from the people going through Mistvale that there were about twenty men-at-arms still at Crystal Lake. We decided that Crystal Lake was still too tough to assault and that we would continue on our plan to scout out Silvereye. However, on Gata-day, Harmast initiated the ten volunteers we had gotten from Crook Halt.

So on Empress-day, we left for Silvereye. In a rainstorm, we arrived there on Ga-day of the sixth week. In the fading light, we could see a completed palisade set away from the village capable of holding anywhere from thirty to fifty men. We noticed some three different patrols who scouted out the immediate area. Once night fell, Harmast decided to send Jorj and Acari into the village to scout.

Without weapons or armor, they snuck into the village. They managed to evade the patrols and softly clapped outside a door, which is the way one signals one’s presence outside another’s house. The door opened and a man poked his head out.

“It’s past curfew,” he said. “We need help,” said Jorj.

“Come in quickly,” said the man.

So Acari and Jorj went inside. Once inside, the man asked, “Who are you? What’s going on? Are you from Mistvale?”

Jorj and Acari both told the man what had happened since the revolution started and told

him that they were here to scout. The man told them that the general belief was that there were four exigers, thirty men-at-arms and something that they kept under wraps. It was supposed to be able to burrow and dig quite well.

After a while, they left to come back to us. On the way out, though, Jorj sneezed. Both of them immediately took off, attempting to use sheer speed to escape the patrols. They were unsuccessful. The patrols caught them, beat them for being out past curfew, and then watched while they “went back home.” Since neither of them knew who lived where, and since they couldn’t find the house where they had met the old man, they essentially chose at random.

Jorj lucked out. He was thrown into a large house with many occupants. They also recognized the name of his aunt, who had lived in Silvereye. They asked about the white man Harmast and he told them all about Harmast’s exploits. They offered to let him stay the night, but he said that he had to get back. So the occupants created a diversion with a chicken and he managed to make it back to the rest of us.

And what of Acari? Well, the house he was thrown in was one with a newlywed couple. Fortunately the men-at-arms didn’t notice the obvious discrepancy. Acari managed to calm the couple down and he hid there until morning. The next day he went out into the fields with everybody else and made it back to us.

Seeing that it would be very difficult to take Silvereye with exigers there, we decided to head back to Mistvale. We returned there on Empress-day of week 6.

After a conversation with Slagstone, Grokk left Mistvale.

The rest of us decided to try to make it to Halfwing and recruit more Harmasti, for our numbers were small, only some seventeen Harmasti. We left on Pamalt-day.

On Witch-day we arrived in Stormwood. Asking about Halfwing, the headman told us that the men-at-arms in the fort haven’t been down for a long time. When asked, the headman said that there are about twenty men-at-arms in the fort. He said that there probably wouldn’t be any exigers there but that there were some 80 slaves.

Not wanting to encounter the fort, Harmast decided to take us over the mountains to Halfwing. We didn’t make it to Halfwing until Six-day of week 7. Halfwing is a large valley some thirteen by seven kilometers. Looking in, we saw no palisade anywhere in the village. Harmast decided to send in Jorj and Acari again, plus two other Harmasti, one of whom was named Moi.

So the four of them headed down into the valley. They approached a man who asked, “Who are you?”

“My name is Moi,” said Moi. “We are from Mistvale here visiting relatives.” “And they let you pass?” asked the man, referring to the men-at-arms in the fort. Jorj mumbled to Moi, “Tell them everything.”

“Well, no they didn’t exactly let us pass,” said Moi.

“You men you came the other way?” asked the old man as he pointed to the other exit from Halfwing.

“What is in the other direction?” asked Moi.

“Why, the Wall — and then the Viter clan,” said the man.

Finally Moi started to tell the man about how we were working against the men-at-arms. “We are Harmasti,” said Acari proudly.

“What are they?” asked the man.

“It’s a religious order and this is our holiday,” lied Moi, thus breaking his geas as a Humakti.

Jorj now shut up Moi and told the man how we intended to defeat the exigers and free the

valleys.

“You’re fighting the exigers?” asked the man, astonished. “But only exigers fight exigers.

What clan are you from?”

“We are not exigers,” said Jorj.

“Most of us are from the other valleys. Some of us are from far to the north,” said Acari. “Yes, and one of our party is a white man,” said Jorj.

The man, who looked slightly confused, said, “You’d better come and talk to our headman.”

So they went into the village proper and housed them in a house while they got the headman. While they waited, the four of them talked and decided to tell them everything that had happened. Meanwhile the villagers were building a large bonfire.

When the headman arrived, they all gathered around the fire.

“No one but men-at-arms have been here for eleven weeks. And they’re always the same men-at-arms. What’s been going on outside?” asked the headman.

“Revolution,” pronounced Acari.

“Tell us about the white man,” said the headman. “Is it the one the prophecy spoke of?” “Yes, and we’ve come to recruit warriors,” said Jorj.

They conversed for some time while around them a celebration was going on. They told them all about our adventures and the headman seemed pleased. He said to bring the rest of the party on down into the village. Acari came back to us and we went down to the village.

So the rest of us went down into the village and were welcomed. Harmast did most of the talking to the headman. He wanted to set up Halfwing as a training camp for our Harmasti and any of the villagers who wanted to join us.

We stayed in Halfwing that night. The headman also told us that the men-at-arms in the fort did not let any villagers out through the gorge; they killed those who tried. Moi told Harmast of his troubles. Harmast merely told him not to draw his sword until the next battle, when it would be all right.

The next morning (Ga-day of week 8 of spring), we left for Mistvale. Our intention was to bring back to Halfwing all of the swords that we had and use Halfwing as a training ground. We arrived at Mistvale and, taking all of the Harmasti and ten militia (plus the swords), we left again for Halfwing.

We arrived at Stormwood on Empress-day of week 9. Harmast left the ten militia plus one Harmasti there to try to ambush any men-at-arms who tried to leave the fort and pass through Stormwood. He also said that we should try to go through the pass and see this fort.

On Pamalt-day we trekked down the gorge towards Halfwing. Towards noon, we saw the fort. It was perfectly placed. The gorge walls were about 100 meters high. On one side the wall was undercut by a swift river flowing towards Halfwing. The other side was where the fort was. Set in the cliff-side, it was about twenty to thirty feet in from a vertical line dropped from the top of the gorge wall. Immediately below the fort, the gorge wall had been shaped so as to let objects roll down towards the gorge floor. The fort was placed in such a way that it commanded a view of the gorge for a kilometer in both directions. There was no vegetation to provide cover and we could think of no plausible way to pass unnoticed. We therefore went back to Stormwood to go over the mountains to Halfwing.

This time, though, we went on the side of the gorge that would place us above the fort in time. From above, we could see no way to lower anyone or anything into the fort because of the way the wall was shaped. Anyone lowered to the level of the fort would still be about twenty to thirty feet horizontally away from the fort, and in an unenviable position.

We finally made it to Halfwing on Pamalt-day of week 11. Just as we arrived, at around mid-morning, we saw about a dozen people leaving Halfwing with about seven pack animals towards the fort. Harmast shouted, “Surrender, stop, wait!”

Five of them then pulled out weapons, killed the animals and ran off towards the fort.

Harmast said, “I’m going alone,” and started to remove his armor. Jorj, who had his armor off before Harmast did, said he was going to go with Harmast. Harmast accepted. Before they ran off, Thingol cast a Damage Resist 5 on Jorj that would last for six hours.

Harmast and Jorj chased them for about fifteen minutes, with Harmast steadily pulling out in front. But when he got within a hundred meters or so, the five slaves turned around and fired crossbows at Harmast! One bolt hit his right leg and his cry of pain could be heard by the rest of us, who had disobeyed his order and followed as soon as armor could be removed.

Harmast threw one of his swords at the slave who had hit him. The sword caught the slave in the abdomen and he fell just as Jorj reached Harmast. The slaves’ next shots flew towards the two. One hit Harmast in his other leg, another hit Jorj in the right leg.

As the slave’s cranked their crossbows (except for the one who was Healing himself), Harmast cast a Heal Wounds spell and Jorj failed a Heal spell. Harmast then got up and charged the slaves.

Before he could make it, the slaves fired again. One hit Harmast squarely in the chest, but he kept on charging. He swung and maimed that slave’s left arm. The slaves then dropped their crossbows and pulled out their swords. Harmast hit again, but was parried. In return, he was missed by two of them, with another one fumbling.

Jorj finally cast his Heal spell, then got up and headed towards Harmast. Harmast hit another slave in the right leg, who fell down. Harmast was hit twice and attempted to parry them both. He didn’t parry. He was hit in the left leg and the abdomen and fell, wounded.

But not for long! He called on Humakt to heal him completely and for him to have his armor on. Humakt granted this request for 7 POW, leaving Harmast with 4 POW. Jorj, who had made it to the battle, hit a slave in the abdomen, who fell down.

By now, the rest of us, with Thingol in the lead, had reached the scene of the battle. Thingol slowed to cast a Palsy spell at one of the slaves, which succeeded, but only in the left arm. The slave started to run away. Until Harmast threw another sword at him, hitting him in the abdomen, felling

him. Harmast shouted, “Surrender!” They surrendered.

Of the five slaves who ran off, only three survived. Harmast summarily killed two of the three survivors and then questioned the remaining one, whose name turned out to be Baanan.

Harmast asked him how many men-at-arms were in the fort. Baanan said that there were five and twenty-five slaves. Jorj, who knew this to be false, hit Baanan. After a little more, Baanan confirmed that there were about twenty men-at-arms and 75 slaves. Harmast asked about a back entrance into the fort. Baanan replied that he knew of none and that if there were, it would probably be an exiger secret. We asked him how often they came to Halfwing for food. He said about every two to three days. We asked about food storage. He said that there was about a year’s supply of food in the fort.

Then Harmast tried a different tactic. He asked Baanan how he felt about the exigers.

Baanan replied that the exigers had given him everything he had. Harmast then tried to convert him to our side. Baanan said that everybody is a slave and that he would rather have his masters to ours. He also said that he didn’t think that many of the slaves would want to change the situation. “I’ve seen a man-at-arm become an exiger twice and I’ve seen a slave become an exiger four times!”

Since the attempt to convert him had failed, we went back to asking him questions about the exigers. We asked him who his masters worshipped. Baanan replied, “The Sword God.”

“All the exigers?” “Only some.”

“Who else do they worship?”

“The ’Old Man’ — an old man with three eyes, a club in one hand, and the other in a magical gesture.”

Slagstone spoke up and said that he recognized the description. He said that representations of Zorak Zoran, also called the Lord God of the Legion of Death, had those attributes.

“Whom else?”

“The fixed star: the red one in the north.”

Harmast, Slagstone and Thingol were all silent as they absorbed the implications. Finally Harmast asked, “What are the exiger’s views about Chaos?”

“What’s that?”

Thingol asked, “How many sorcerers do the exigers have?”

Baanan replied, “Every fifth or sixth man-at-arm knows some sorcery.” With no more questions, we decided to imprison Baanan.

For about a week we rested and began to think about how we could defeat the fort and defend Halfwing. Around Ga-day of the twelfth week, we had the idea of building a palisade across the pass into Halfwing. We immediately began construction.

Harmast however, was in no mood to assist or supervise construction. He was obsessed with trying to find a back door into the fortress. Therefore he left on Witch-day with some others to search for a secret way into the fort. He returned on Ga-day of the first week of summer with nothing to show.

By Empress-day, however, the palisade was finished. From the gorge, it was about twenty feet high. On the valley side it gently sloped up to the top where archers could pick off riders heading down the gorge.

An argument that was going on between us was where to make our headquarters. Harmast preferred Mistvale as did others, but the rest of us argued that since the palisade was built, Halfwing might be more easily defensible. The argument ended when Harmast declared that we would return to Mistvale. So on Pamalt-day we left. On Empress-day of week two we entered Stormwood and picked up the ten militia and the one Harmasti.

We arrived back at Mistvale the next day to be met by an unhappy sight. There was a palisade inside Mistvale. A palisade that was manned by men-at-arms.

Chapter8

Return of the Mostali

Intelligently bypassing the valley, we went straight towards our cave-outposts. The bad news was that the palisade was manned by about 40 men-at-arms and 100 slaves. The good news was that Gorfang was back! He had been here since Pamalt-day of the last week of spring. And he brought with him ten dwarfs from the dwarf citadel. But, only two of the ten Harmasti survived the trip: Borax and one named Efger.

Harmast had mixed emotions about the news but his happiness won. We all went over to the cave where the dwarfs had stayed to greet them. But just as we were about to enter, Harmast had a feeling he hadn’t had in a long time. He sensed assassins inside the cave. Inside, Gorfang watched aghast as eight of the ten dwarfs he had brought back from the citadel suddenly got up, formed a column of two dwarfs each and ran towards the cave entrance with their crossbows ready. Suddenly the first two shot then stepped aside, dropping their crossbows and pulling out hammers to let the next two dwarfs shoot.

Outside, Harmast had just told the rest of us of his sense as two crossbow bolts flew and hit him in the chest and right arm. The rest of the dwarfs shot at random targets, then engaged in melee. All of us tinked back and forth except for Slagstone, who hit a dwarf already engaged on the head and Thingol, who Palsied the dwarf engaged with Harmast. Gorfang pulled out his own crossbow and tried to shoot one of the attacking dwarfs in the back. The shot bounced off and the last two of the eight dwarfs turned back to Gorfang.

Moi now pulled out his sword which promptly shattered. Harmast’s Sense Assassin now only registered the eight dwarfs attacking us as assassins. He hit another dwarf, not the one which Thingol had Palsied, and hit his left leg. Jorj tinked off his dwarf, but the dwarf buried his hammer in Jorj’s stomach. His DI cast failed and Jorj died. Slagstone felled another dwarf with his mace. The two dwarfs inside the cave shot at Gorfang. One hit him in the left arm, the other missed.

Moi now pulled out his axe and meleed with that. Harmast cast a Light spell in the cave with the intent of heading on in. The dwarf whom Thingol had Palsied now rose and hit Acari who was already engaged two on one with Slagstone. Fortunately, the dwarf missed. Another dwarf fumbled his attack and hit himself in the left leg. Gorfang was hit twice but he only parried once. The other blow landed on his right arm.

By now most of the dwarfs who had fallen were drinking potions and rising again. Moi took a shot to his left arm and fell over. Harmast fumbled his attack and twisted his ankle. In return he took two hits, only one of which penetrated to his right arm. Slagstone clove the head of one of the dwarfs. Gorfang impaled one of the dwarfs fighting him, but was Demoralized by the other.

Harmast parried both of his attackers. The dwarf that Gorfang impaled pulled out another weapon. Slagstone tinked off his attackers.

Harmast’s hit was critically parried. In return he was impaled once and hit once. Both of his parries failed and he fell over, unconscious. Slagstone knocked over one of his foes in order to head over towards Harmast. He was missed once and hit once in the right arm. Acari, who had Healed himself, hit a dwarf in the chest. Thingol now started to run towards the battle, seeing a potion fall unused from a dwarf’s hand.

By now, five Harmasti had shown up to investigate the commotion. Slagstone now jumped over Harmast’s body to land on top of the dwarf who was about to hit Harmast’s unconscious body. Acari impaled a dwarf in the abdomen, killing it, but losing his weapon. One of the Harmasti killed another dwarf. Gorfang continued to tink back and forth, while Thingol managed to grab the potion amidst the confusion.

Slagstone continued to guard Harmast’s body. He took a shot to his abdomen which he didn’t parry but remained standing. Thingol, having reached Harmast’s body, decided to cast Treat Wounds first before administering the potion. Slagstone now started to back slowly into the cave, for there were three dwarfs menacing him. Acari criticalled a dwarf in the right arm. Gorfang had his right arm incapacitated. The Harmasti finished off another dwarf.

Slagstone cried out to the dwarfs to surrender. They did not and so we had to kill them all.

For the time being, we did not kill the two dwarfs who did not attack us. However, we did notice something strange. The dwarfs who had attacked us were all hollow!

While we decided what to do with the two dwarfs, Gorfang told us of their adventures in getting to the dwarf citadel.

They had left on Gata-day of week 2 of spring with Borax in command of the other nine Harmasti, Gorfang being in overall command. They had all carried as much supplies as they could carry. For eleven days they had headed towards the east, the supposed direction of the dwarf citadel. On the evening of Six-day of week 3, a creature sprang out from the brush and pinned one of the Harmasti down. The creature had four legs and was colored blue with what looked to be hard chitin covering him. Many spines protruded from his body and his claws were long.

“I can kill him before you can hurt me. We shall play a riddle game. If you win, I shall leave. If I win, I shall eat this man and then leave.”

They had no choice but to agree. Their first riddle to the creature was: “What has foliage and is also part of a family?”

The creature thought about it and correctly answered, “A family tree.” Then it asked: “If a cat and a half can kill a rat and a half in a minute and a half, how long does it take one cat to kill 60 rats?”

Now they almost fell for the trap, but correctly answered, “90 minutes.” They asked: “When is the dead on top of the living?”

The creature answered wrongly, but argued his answer. The correct answer is, if one knows their Glorantha Lore, “The World.” Then it asked: “45”

They answered incorrectly. A tie. The creature said that they would ask one more question to break the tie. So they asked: “Golden nails in the ground.”

The creature answered, “Corn stalks,” but the answer was, “Carrots.” The creature left them unharmed.

But not for long. The next morning, it came back and demanded to be fed. Perhaps unwisely, they decided to oblige it. They fed it six days worth of food and it demanded more. They fed it another five days worth of food and still it demanded more. Then they told it to shove off and it did, seemingly satisfied.

They were fairly hungry as they traveled all that day and the next. Finally on Empress-day they hunted for food. While Gorfang was out hunting, the blue thing came up from behind him and grappled him helpless. It came back to the main camp with Gorfang in hand. It demanded food or it would eat Gorfang. They tried to promise it more food if it would just let go of Gorfang, but it replied, “A meal in hand is worth ten in the bushes.”

Finally Borax came back with a whole mountain goat which he had surprised and killed. The creature’s eyes lit up and agreed to spare Gorfang’s life for the whole mountain goat. After it

  1. The question has been lost to posterity.

left, they went out hunting again. They were less successful, but managed to catch enough to hold off starvation.

All Pamalt-day they traveled and on Witch-day they hunted. They spent Six-day traveling too. But that night, the creature returned. Borax notched his bow but before he could shoot, the creature spoke.

“Before you commit suicide, I would like to ask you something. I have tracked you all this way and I wonder why you are wandering through the countryside.”

Gorfang responded, “We are going to the dwarf citadel.”

“Ah, I know that place. They are good and tasty, but I only go there when I am very hungry for it is dangerous there. But that aside, why are you lying to me?”

“I am not lying.”

“But you are going the wrong way.”

There were looks of amazement on everybody’s faces.

“I make you a proposition. If you will hunt for me and let me eat half of your catch, I will guide you to the citadel and back to this spot.”

Gorfang asked, “How far away is the citadel?” “If we don’t make many stops, fourteen days.”

The offer sounded good, since they didn’t know exactly where they were, so they took it up on the offer. The next four days they would hunt for one day and travel the next. On Witch-day of the fifth week of spring, the creature said to them, “I know where you can get eggs. Dragon eggs. They can feed us all for many days. They can be found just up there.”

They all looked up and saw a dragon sail off from atop a sheer cliff some hundreds of feet high. Remaining on the cliff-top we could see a part of what must be a huge nest. After a lengthy discussion, they decided to make the attempt.

Bringing up with them all the rope they had, some 600 feet in all, Gorfang, Borax and two others managed to climb up to the top. There they found five copper-colored eggs. They were extremely large, some three feet long and extremely massive. Gorfang attempted to make a kind of sling to try to lower the eggs safely to the ground below. One of the eggs slipped out of the sling and broke. One of the Harmasti then decided to take an egg down all by himself. Despite the extra burden, he was able to make it down. Gorfang’s sling worked on another egg and it made it down safely.

Then they had to get down and out of sight before the dragon came back. All made it down safely except for Borax who fell. Fortunately he fell into a tree which broke his fall somewhat. Just as the dragon came back, they all attempted to hide or conceal themselves. It didn’t work for the dragon spotted them.

It began to plummet down towards them. Borax threw a Shield 3 on himself while Gorfang shot and missed. One of the Harmasti decided to try something different. He grabbed the egg and hoisted it above his head, daring the dragon to do something. It did. It blasted out a jet of flame which killed the Harmasti and another to boot. The egg survived the flame and fell to the ground unharmed.

The dragon turned around and swooped down on them again. This time the flame missed.

Borax shouted, “Scatter!” However, the dragon didn’t fly around for another pass. It landed on top of a Harmasti and began to melee. It flamed again, but Borax and another Harmasti were able to jump out of the flame’s path. Gorfang shot again and actually damaged its hind left leg, but its tail sweep and jaws took their toll. Finally Gorfang yelled, “Run!!” and they did.

When they found everybody it turned out that five of the Harmasti had died. All that were left were Gorfang, Borax, and four other Harmasti. The creature said nothing.

They traveled all night and all day to escape the dragon’s vigilance. Finally on Ga-day of week 6, the creature said that we were very close and that someone should climb a mountain and look for the citadel. One of the Harmasti did so and spied off in the distance a mountain that looked somehow different. Perhaps it was the windows in the side that did it. Also perhaps it was the gleam that came from the very top every so often.

After a week’s more travel, they came within a few miles of the citadel. One of the Harmasti noticed from a nearby bush that there were two eyes staring out at him. They quickly resolved themselves into a dwarf. He asked what their business was. Gorfang answered that he and his bodyguard wished to speak with the masters of the citadel. The scout, whose name was Wolingafartel (Woling for short) told them to stay there and wait for him to get new orders. They did and Woling returned in the late afternoon. He said for them to follow him and they did. He led them for about an hour until they reached the citadel46.

As they approached the citadel/mountain, they could see that it was ringed with a huge chasm. They headed towards a kind of gate house flanked by two huge towers. Each of these towers had many eyes that intently watched them. Passing through the gate house they came to the edge of the chasm itself. Crossing it was a two-foot wide bridge. In addition, a strong, chill breeze could be felt.

“Here you must cross,” said Woling.

As the first Harmasti started to cross, on the other side of the chasm, two statues some thirteen feet high with large flails started to twirl them, alternately pounding the landing of the bridge. Then one of the towers spoke.

“Abandon your weapons, take off your armor and walk ahead, standing erect.”

This they all did, except for Woling. Borax, who was extremely awed, removed every stitch.

And then they crossed.

The strong wind proved too much for most of the people. The only ones to make it across were Gorfang, Borax, Efger, and of course Woling. The other three were swept off the bridge. As the first one across neared the flailing statues, the flails stopped whirling. And as the last one crossed the threshold, they started up again.

Inside the citadel it was cold and dark, with only a few torches set in iron brackets to dispel the darkness. They walked for a long time in the gloom. Strangely enough, they only saw one dwarf during their whole journey. But finally they entered a chamber with a single dwarf in it.

Gorfang said, “Hello.”

“Get to the point,” said the dwarf.

“I’ve come from Mistvale, and we are trying to get rid of a band of oppressive exigers and we want your help.”

  1. The guards to the castle are very similar to the castle of Oberon.

“To do what?”

“There is a band of exigers that…”

“What do you want us to do?” interrupted the dwarf.

“Well, 300 dwarf archers and about 50 Disorder kegs would come in very handy,” quipped Gorfang.

“Sorry, can’t provide that,” said the dwarf.

Gorfang now attempted to persuade the dwarf to give them help. Finally the dwarfs said, “What are your requirements?”

“Say, ten crossbowmen, some engineers, and about ten fighters all with the best weapons and armor.”

The dwarf thought about this. Finally he said, “Replacing one band of humans with another isn’t good enough. What’s in it for us?”

“Well, I can promise that no humans will ever come back to here.”

“But for how long?” asked the dwarf. “In thirty years their children will have no reason to be grateful to us.”

Gorfang had no answer to this, so he told the dwarf all about the Quest he was on and of how Urrquong had said that the dwarfs were not fixing the right machine.

The dwarf merely said that they were fixing what they believed to be the World Machine and that if they stopped, it may hurt his Quest.

Gorfang now showed the dwarf his key and explained all that he knew about it. The dwarf looked at it with interest. “Can we have it?”

“Permanently?” “No.” 

“Well, OK. But be careful with it.”

And the dwarf handed it to a nilmerg, who scampered off. Gorfang attempted to return to the subject of dwarf aid, but the dwarf interrupted him.

“Humans and dwarfs live together like oil and water. The exigers are a hundred miles away from us, and we do not feel threatened at the moment.”

Gorfang changed the subject and asked about the Gray Ones. The dwarf didn’t know about them. Then he pondered deep in thought for some time. He said, “Our citadel needs all the warriors we can get. It’s also much too small for inner dissension – which we have. You can take the broken dwarfs back with you.”

Gorfang was happy about this and he thanked the dwarf. They retired to their chambers and stayed the night.

The next day, (Pamalt-day), the dwarf returned the key to Gorfang. “It’s unbreakable and it’s purpose is greatly to be desired — it does indeed open the door to the Copper Kettle — but for only one person. We have tunnels to the Copper Kettle, but the way is only for Diamond dwarfs.

But you are welcome to come back and try the path when you feel you are ready. But now you must speak to the Decamony.” And he led Gorfang away from the rest of the group.

While Gorfang was away, the dwarfs that were going to return with them assembled. There were seventeen in all, Woling being among them, each with a crossbow and a hand weapon plus a shield and rock-cloth armor47.

Finally Gorfang returned on Witch-day. The dwarf said that he would let them take a tunnel part of the way back in return for magic points. And if one person sacrificed some POW, they would all be allowed to come back. Since no one wanted to dare the bridge again, they took the offer, with Efger sacrificing the POW.

They made it safely out of the tunnel and started back home. On the way they met the blue creature again. After many trials and tribulations in which seven of the original seventeen dwarfs that came back with them died they made it back to Mistvale on Pamalt-day of the last week of spring.

  1. The equivalent of 4-point armor.

Chapter9

The Retaking of Mistvale

A new person was seen in the outposts of Mistvale. His name was Tortho and he originally came from Kimos. He was captured by elves while fighting slarges and sold as a slave to the Viter clan. His cooking skills were put to good use by the exigers but his hatred of the exigers showed up in his cooking. Before he was killed, he escaped from the Viters and made his way here arriving on Gata-day, week 2 of summer.

The day after the battle with the dwarfs, the two remaining dwarfs, Woling and another named Broken Flint were examined to be sure that they were not constructs too. This involved chopping off a limb, examining it, and then re-attaching it using Regrow Limb. They were imprisoned all day.

The next day, Ga-day of week 3, they were questioned by Harmast. He demanded to know why he was attacked, who had sent the assassins, and other questions of that nature. Woling and Broken Flint said that they had no knowledge of why the party was attacked or from whom the orders were given. They remained in their prison cave all that day too.

But the next morning, they were gone! A frantic search showed no signs of them until they came sauntering back in around 10 am. Back in their cave, Harmast subjected them to severe interrogation.

“Where did you go?” demanded Harmast. “Out,” was Broken Flint’s short answer. “I really want to know!” shouted Harmast.

“We went to a religious ceremony,” said Woling.

Gorfang whispered to Harmast that many dwarfs tend to over-simplify things. Thus if a dwarf said that he went to a religious ceremony, it might not be the same kind of religious ceremony that humans are used to.

Slagstone now noticed something strange. His nostrils told him that there was iron in the air. He told Harmast of this, who asked, “What’s all this about iron?”

Broken Flint replied, “We do not, never have, and probably never will have or use iron.” Harmast now checked again to see if the two were constructs. Then he asked why they had

come.

“We came to help you,” said Woling.

Harmast distrusted the dwarfs, but he could see the value of good fighters. Consequently, he

told the two dwarfs to fight each other until one of them surrendered. Woling and Broken Flint both though the idea silly, but did it anyway. After a minute and a half of swords clashing, Woling landed a blow in Broken Flint’s abdomen, who then surrendered.

Harmast then tentatively decided to use the two as front line fighters. But there was still the matter of how they had escaped. Woling told Harmast that they couldn’t tell him or they would die. However, he said that they could tell Gorfang, but only while alone. Gorfang definitely did not want to be alone with the two and refused. Harmast asked if they met other dwarfs while they were escapees. Broken Flint said that they had neither met nor sought other dwarfs. Harmast wanted to

know what kind of worship ceremony they had attended. Woling said that they could not reveal their worship secrets.

Finally Harmast asked the rest of the party what their opinions were. Slagstone said that he was biased, Thingol said that as long as they were kept under constant watch, they shouldn’t be any trouble. The rest of the party agreed with Thingol as did Harmast.

That week, Worfang again Discorporated to try to find a useful spell. He returned with a Glamour spell spirit, which Harmast decided to try to bind to gain back some of his POW. Unfortunately for Harmast, the spirit possessed him until Worfang drove the spirit out. Harmast was, to say the least, extremely embarrassed.

The rest of the week was uneventful until Witch-day. That morning, Harmast heard a familiar sound outside his cave. He went outside and saw again the raven.

“Thine enemy approaches Harmast. Stretch forth your hand.”

This Harmast did and the raven slashed its wing across Harmast’s hand, slicing a dreadful wound. Despite the pain, he could feel that all of his Rune magic had returned.

“Prepare thyself,” was the last thing the raven said before it flew away.

The very next day, Six-day, a big meeting occurred with the headmen of Halfwing, Stormwood, and Mistvale there. And, to everyone’s surprise, the old shaman of the hills was there too. Tiburo spoke to Harmast.

“If this revolution fails we (meaning us village leaders) are all dead. Thus we have privately held a council and decided to help you to help save our skins. We have scraped together all of the fighting men of the three villages, 92 men, to give to you. Happy birthday.”

Harmast was touched beyond what mere words could say. Nevertheless, he managed to make a fine speech.

“With these new fighting Harmasti, I feel we can win the crucial battle against our oppressors, the exigers. I make you an oath not to leave until the menace is wiped out, and not to surrender to the exigers. If I am not successful, I hope that Humakt will not take me to Heaven.”

To the rest of us, he said, “I know that some of you (indicating Slagstone, Thingol, and Gorfang) have other quests to fulfill. However, I hope that you will have me as you leader and fight by my side to rid the valleys of the exiger menace.”

The shaman said to us, “With great difficulty I sent spirits to find the persons you described to me. On my way back here, though, I was captured by trolls and was imprisoned for a time.”

As the shaman said this, Slagstone silently smirked.

“I do know, however, that a whole tribe of trolls is marching on the mountains, some 300 strong.”

Tiburo then said, “When 300 trolls come here, we humans are in deep trouble. We must be in a firm position, ready to defend ourselves against them.”

Slagstone agreed. “Harmast, you must be strong. Trolls understand only strength.”

Harmast asked the shaman how long ago he had sent the spirits off. The shaman replied that he sent them off around the third week of spring. Harmast then said that he would worry about

the trolls when they got here. It would take them time to cross the Mari Mountains, and by then he hoped to be in a much better bargaining position. Therefore, he was going to put his attention onto the palisade in Mistvale.

There were supposed to be around 40 men-at-arms and 100 slaves guarding the palisade. It was about 100 feet long by 60 feet wide. There was a deep ditch surrounding it and projections from the four corners to set up a crossfire on anyone assaulting the walls. The main gate did not have a ditch in front of it, but looked heavily fortified. The walls were about ten feet tall.

Many plans flew back and forth to take the palisade. Tunneling a kilometer to directly underneath it was one, as was forcing the two dwarfs to surrender to the palisade and then dig out of it, leaving a tunnel behind. Woling and Broken Flint had many plans, but Harmast refused all of theirs, because they would not tell how they would do what they claimed they could do.

The final plan was to turn two of the wagons into a housing for a battering ram and the other three as ramps to the top of the walls. Mobile planes of wood would serve as protection against arrows and fascines would facilitate the wagons’ attempt to push up against the walls. Many scaling ladders were built for the final climb up the walls.

So the housing was built and covered with whatever we could find to protect it against the fire that the Brands so dearly loved. The attack was scheduled for Witch-day of week 4. On that evening, our entire force slipped down onto the valley floor and prepared for the assault.

Harmast’s group had the battering ram. With him were Gorfang, Thingol, Acari, Efger (Harmast’s appointed second-in-command) plus twenty veteran Harmasti, thirty new Harmasti, and ten militia. Their job was to batter down the main gate.

Slagstone’s group included all of the non-humans (including Woling and Broken Flint) plus one wagon and ten veterans, ten rookies, and twenty militia. His job was to attack one of the projecting towers.

Borax’s group had ten veterans, thirty rookies, ten militia and one wagon. He was to assault one of the walls.

Finally, Tortho’s group had ten veterans, twenty rookies, ten militia, and one wagon48. His assignment was another of the walls.

Worfang was to initially scout out the palisade while Discorporated. As he glided over the palisade, a black spirit came out after him. It quickly overcame Worfang and pulled him back down into the palisade.

Harmast was able to achieve relative surprise. As all of the groups reached a distance of 100 meters, the crossbowmen fired their Firearrowed bolts. All of the bolts missed except for ten of the bolts which hit the housing of the ram. The housing started to burn and they stopped moving to fight the fire.

At sixty meters, the crossbows fired more Firearrowed bolts. Slagstone’s wagon was hit as well as one of his veteran groups. He stopped his wagon to fight the fire. Harmast’s wagon was hit again, as Thingol, Gorfang, and Acari all fired their crossbows. Only Gorfang made his shot tell.

When Tortho’s and Borax’s group were at twenty meters, the crossbowmen fired regular bolts, but not at Borax’s group. Some of Tortho’s rookies were hit as were some of Slagstone’s. The bolts hitting Harmast’s group penetrated more, and some of his rookies fell dead or wounded. By now Slagstone had put out the fire, and he started his wagon moving again.

  1. These numbers are all approximate due to the necessity of reducing the scale factor by ten.

Tortho’s group and Borax’s group had now reached the wall. The veteran Harmasti placed the ladders in position and began to storm up the walls. Slagstone’s wagon was still moving towards the wall. Harmast abandoned the ram except for leaving behind the militia to try to halt the fire, and charged.

Tortho’s group was initially repelled by the flaming poles as was Borax’s as Slagstone’s wagon rumbled on and Harmast’s men charged. The crossbows fired again and some of Tortho’s men fell off the ladders. Slagstone’s group had reached the wall and began to storm as the bolts flew down, putting some of the rookies out of the combat. Borax’s group on the ladder did some damage to the defenders before their burning armor and shields forced them off the ladders.

Harmast’s wagon continued to burn.

In a second charge, Tortho’s men managed to gain a foothold as Tortho’s Fireblade rallied them. Slagstone’s group battered their defenders, forcing them back as Slagstone, Woling and Broken Flint all hit. The rookies who had taken to the ladders of Borax’s group were repelled by the fire-wielding defenders. Harmast’s group reached the walls and began scaling the ladders.

Tortho’s group was missed by two groups of crossbowmen as their second charge began to bear fruit. The defenders fighting Slagstone broke and fled, and his group gained the tower.

Borax’s rookies fought valiantly, but were forced off the ladders as the fire burned them. Harmast gained the top and began spreading death with his swords as the crossbowmen missed.

Tortho’s group began to show signs of fatigue as they fought atop the walls.

Reinforcements arrived where Slagstone was fighting just as the first of the militia climbed over the walls. Their crossbows felled both Woling and Broken Flint and wounded Slagstone and some of the militia. Borax’s militia now began scaling the ladders and were hit by the flaming poles. Many of Harmast’s group were still unable to gain the wall as Harmast continued his grim reaping.

Some of Tortho’s rookies were killed by the crossbowmen as his men again rallied and killed more defenders. The group of crossbowmen broke and ran as the last of Slagstone’s men had topped the walls. Engaged in melee with more reinforcements, some of the militia were cut down in a fairly equal trade. Borax’s men began to fight better as they fought on the ladders. As Harmast cut down another, Thingol Palsied the leader of a group of defenders and some of the veterans gained the wall. In addition, our crossbowmen finally managed to wound some of the crossbowmen shooting at us.

Tortho’s group continued to battle for the wall. The crossbowmen that had fled suddenly turned and rallied themselves to face Slagstone as he realized that he had very few men left. As more of Harmast’s group gained the wall, the defenders suddenly struck at a group of veterans and wounded them.

More crossbow bolts flew, missing Tortho’s group, who was again showing signs of fatigue. The remnants of Slagstone’s militia cut down one group of crossbowmen as the other fired and wounded Slagstone and Broken Flint, who had Healed himself. Crossbow bolts took their toll on Harmast’s rookies as the battle raged on.

The group Tortho was fighting suddenly lost heart and broke. As the last militia died, and as Slagstone began to kill the crossbowmen, they surrendered. Borax’s group finally made some progress against the defenders. Harmast’s group finished off the defenders on his portion of the wall and began to charge over it.

Tortho now took his group over towards Slagstone’s group, seeing many defenders massed over there, ignoring the crossbowmen who had been firing on them since the assault began.

Slagstone now had many prisoners to handle and he began disarming them. Borax lost the last of his fighting men, and had to retreat with the remnants of his men. As Harmast was finally able to take a look around him, he suddenly disappeared from our sight. Acari headed towards the crossbowmen who had been harrying Harmast’s group, not realizing that he was all alone.

In the center of the palisade, Tortho engaged the group who were over where Slagstone had been. Noticing how bare his back was, he sent five rookies to deal with the crossbowmen who had been shooting at them. Slagstone continued to be depressed. Efger led the remaining Harmasti down into the palisade to help Tortho’s group.

The five rookies that Tortho had sent were eliminated by the crossbowmen. Slagstone was still depressed, not knowing that Borax was taking the rest of his men over to help him. Acari, still alone, started to reap death among the crossbowmen. Tortho’s and Efger’s group started to massacre the group fighting them.

Slagstone continued to hold his prisoners as Borax and his men joined him. Acari, who finally received the reinforcements he wanted, killed the remainder of the crossbowmen he had attacked. The defenders fighting Tortho and Efger rallied and launched a last attack on the veterans, setting them afire.

Efger’s group and Tortho’s group made short work of the defenders. Most of Slagstone’s prisoners made a break for freedom and, undermanned, Slagstone could do nothing about it. The crossbowmen who had harried Tortho’s group also escaped. Many of the wounded men-at-arms managed to heal themselves and sneak away in the confusion of the battle. But we managed to take the palisade.

When all was counted, it turned out that we had lost only nine militia, fifteen veterans, and twenty-five rookies. In return, we believe we killed all the men-at-arms and 75 slaves. Twenty-five slaves had escaped the palisade.

Searching the palisade from top to bottom, we discovered another barrel of each of the three substances. We also recovered forty packets of the tarry substance that the Brands used, plus about 270 pennies worth of silver49. We found about a dozen pigeons, which Tortho confiscated. There was a week’s supply of food for 140 men for a week. And, best of all, there were four crystals found.

But where was Harmast?

  1. There had actually been 300 pennies, but Tortho had taken 30 of them for himself.

Chapter10

A HeroQuest and a Tower

What Harmast saw when he looked around him was the form of Khanda standing in the middle of the palisade. Then everything around him except for Khanda faded slowly out of existence and he found himself standing on a featureless blue plain.

Behind him stood what he recognized as an Arkati warrior guarding the raven which was now clutching a large golden globe. Khanda slowly advanced on Harmast.

When he was a certain distance away from Harmast, a glowing silver circle formed on the ground around them both. It was the exact diameter of a Humakti dueling circle. Harmast found out that when he wished for a Truesword and a Bladesharp 4 on his weapon, it was there. Somehow, he was being magically supported.

Khanda attempted to cast a Truesword, which succeeded. The time he spent enabled Harmast to get the first blow in. The blow tinked. Khanda tinked in return and he seemed not amused.

Again they traded blows to no effect. Then Harmast got a good blow in and nicked Khanda in the left leg. Though it bled, he seemed more mad than hurt.

Khanda swung again and tinked. Harmast now tried to break Khanda’s sword and it snapped nicely. Khanda looked aghast and then pulled out a kukri and attempted a Truesword on it. The Truesword failed and then Harmast criticalled Khanda. Khanda fumbled his parry. Harmast chopped Khanda’s left arm off and it and his kukri went flying.

Well, almost went flying. As they started to fly away, his arm suddenly was re-attached and his kukri was in it50. Khanda then attempted to Heal himself but as he was casting the spell, Harmast hit him again in the same arm. The arm came off again.

Again Khanda tried to Heal and again Harmast hit him before it finished. Harmast chopped into Khanda’s left leg, knocking him down. As Khanda again tried to Heal himself, Harmast plunged his sword into Khanda’s stomach. He stayed down, unconscious51.

Then Khanda’s body started to turn abstract, and Harmast could see various glowing gems over Khanda’s body. They varied in shape, size, brightness, and color. The bird croaked to him, “Take your reward. Those gems are his Power and spells.”

Harmast was tempted to take POW from Khanda to replace his own depleted store, but chose instead to take from him his knowledge of Bladesharp 10. As he took the gem, the blue plain started to take on the shape of the palisade and the bird, warrior, and Khanda faded away to be replaced by the palisade of Mistvale52.

Harmast told the rest of us about his escapade. Some of us were critical in his choosing a spell that he can’t even cast53, but he defended his decision in that now Khanda no longer had the spell.

  1. He had spent a point of Will to re-roll his parry.
  2. Actually he was at -3 HP, but one can only kill someone else on the Hero Plane in certain places; this location wasn’t one of those places.
  3. What had happened is that Khanda had set a HeroQuest trap for Harmast. He is to be the Knight of the Globe and must protect the bird from being killed. Every time that Khanda and Harmast are doing the correct things, Harmast is forced to the Hero Plane to fight Khanda.
  4. Remember, the chance to cast is POW * 5 – ENC.

Harmast held a victory worship service on Gata-day of the 5th week of summer. Then we decided what we were going to do. The next day, a small expedition went out to look at the fort between Stormwood and Halfwing again. They returned on Ga-day of week 6, when the last remnants of the palisade were being torn down.

It was decided that tomorrow we would send a messenger to Stormwood to tell them to start to block off the valley to the fort with a palisade similar to the one at Halfwing. The messenger returned on Ga-day of week 7 saying that the construction was nearly finished.

It was on this day that Thingol finally managed to do the required research into a spell from the book that the trolls had brought. He called on his patron saint, Valkaro, and spent the whole night studying. With Valkaro’s aid, he managed to learn the spell Neutralize Damage, a type of Healing spell.

It was good that he finished, for the next day we left for Silvereye to take their palisade as well. We had three wagons remaining after the assault on Mistvale and we brought them along. We had to leave behind the militia in case there was more trouble at Mistvale, but we did bring all one hundred or so Harmasti. We arrived at Silvereye on Pamalt-day.

The palisade at Silvereye had about 20 men-at-arms and about 40 slaves. It was thus much smaller than the one at Mistvale. However, it did have a stone tower on one of the corners.

We split up into three groups. Harmast had the main force, consisting of himself, Gorfang, Efger, Thingol, 40 Harmasti and one wagon. Slagstone had another wagon plus Borax, Woling, Broken Flint, and 30 Harmasti. Finally, Tortho had the last group with Acari and 30 Harmasti, plus the last wagon.

In preparation, Thingol used the crystals that the others had to put up Damage Resist on the invaders. Harmast, who had taken Worfang’s crystal away from him, got a ten point Damage Resist. Efger got seven points, Slagstone got nine points and Tortho got five points.

As we approached the walls, Firearrowed crossbow bolts flew our way. Fortunately for us, they all missed. We reached the walls and began to climb.

Harmast’s group was initially held off of the top. Slagstone’s Harmasti were set afire by the pole-wielding men-at-arms. Tortho’s group, which had to travel more distance, now reached the walls.

Thingol Palsied the obvious leader of the resistance around Harmast. Nevertheless, they hit and Efger jumped off the ramp to put out the fire that was on him. Slagstone’s group again took damage from the poles. Tortho’s group began to storm up the walls and was met by fierce resistance from the slaves.

The battle for the walls continued. Tortho fell off the ladders after being hit by a slave.

Slagstone’s weapon flared and burned after the Protection 4 on it was breached. Woling’s shield burned through and began to burn Woling himself. Finally, one group of Harmasti in Harmast’s group gained the walls. Then some of Slagstone’s group also gained the walls. From then, it became a rout. The defender’s morale broke, and they surrendered to us.

In capturing the palisade, twelve Harmasti died. In return, we killed nine men-at-arms and thirteen slaves, capturing eleven men-at-arms and twenty-seven slaves. After many suggestions, Harmast had the men-at-arms’ right thumbs cut off and then set them free. Then we set the slaves to work demolishing the palisade.

The villagers of Silvereye came to us and asked us what we were going to do. They suggested that we could get recruits from Turn’s Drop, where there was no palisade. Harmast, Borax, Acari, and three Harmasti set out for Turn’s Drop on Six-day of week 7. We expected him

back on the next day.

But there was still the stone tower to be considered. It was about six meters in diameter, and some ten meters high, made out of piled stone.

Harmast, fearing another HeroQuest trap, left the matter to Efger. The villagers said that they had built the tower with a door, but that they had later been told to seal it up. There were, however, narrow arrow slits that we could peer into. Though it was dark, Gorfang’s Earthsense detected no motion and only ambient temperature. Slagstone using his Darksense thought he detected wall hangings. The villagers said that when they built it, it was bare.

Our curiosity aroused, we made plans to get inside. Finally, we all went to the top and with Slagstone using his mace to bash a hole, and Broken Flint using his Form/Set Granite, they managed to make a hole two feet wide into the tower.

Efger, Gorfang, Thingol, Tortho, Woling, and Broken Flint all lowered themselves in through the hole. The floor was made of stone, and there were indeed hangings. They were velvet black with no detail on them, nor anything behind them. There were also stone stairs leading down which we took. The next floor was almost exactly like the one we just left. Again we took the stairs downward.

This floor was apparently the bottom floor of the tower. There were no tapestries, but there was a door with neither hinges nor handle on our side. Discussion ran rampant as to whether to touch the door or not. Finally Broken Flint touched it. It was warm: in fact, warmer than it should have been. Thingol realized that the level of this door roughly corresponded to the level of the ground outside. Everyone was puzzled. Gorfang said that since he was the senior, we should all go up. Efger hotly retorted that he was Harmast’s second in command, but that we should all go up.

All except for Thingol, Woling, and Broken Flint, who then pushed the door open. As his hand broke the plane of the door frame, there was a loud keening noise and Broken Flint’s left hand, the hand that pushed the door, took damage.

The door opened onto something exceedingly strange. The three saw a large hall with a fireplace. There were five people inside this hall. Four were obviously men-at-arms, the other was sitting in a chair in front of the fire. But as the sound of the Warding reached him, he got up, grabbed a sword off a bracket above the fireplace and headed towards the three, as did two of the four men-at-arms whose spears sprouted Fireblades.

Thingol reacted instantly by casting a Palsy spell at the presumed exiger. He overcame the man and he fell, his chest Palsied. However, the two men-at-arms engaged Broken Flint, who had barely enough time to get his weapon out. He parried one, but not the other. He fell from wounds in the head and right leg.

As Woling took his place, Thingol started to run up the stairs. Woling, however, fumbled his parry and fell down, where he surrendered.

Just as we were about to leave, Gorfang stopped. He said, “Even though they are treacherous and vile, they are our comrades.” We were about to try to make a kind of stand when we just decided to leave the tower.

But what in Glorantha was this tower? Thingol was sure that this was the Doorway that Khanda told us was their greatest magic. So we surrounded it with Harmasti, and put five Harmasti on top of the tower to guard the hole that Slagstone had made.

One good thing that happened was that Mugumma came into Silvereye that evening. But later that evening, we heard sounds from inside the tower. Suddenly, new arrow slits

appeared in the tower and sounds of fighting could be heard from the top. But before we could go to investigate, Firearrowed crossbow bolts flew from the new windows.

In face of this fire, we retreated out of range of the crossbows, but kept the circle around the tower intact. We kept up our vigil all night. Nothing happened.

The next day, Ga-day of week 8, Harmast returned with the six recruits from Turn’s Drop.

He was not pleased to hear the news we told him. He did ask about the other exiger fort, which supposedly held the pass against the Kujerungs. It was supposedly as bad as the one between Stormwood and Halfwing.

Harmast was also worried about his current condition. He was low on POW, and he had no healing magic other than Heal Wounds. So he asked Mugumma if he could help. Mugumma said that he had two spell spirits which he could order to attack Harmast. Harmast could then not only get a new spell, but hopefully increase his POW. In return for a six-point magic point storing crystal and armed with a Spirit Screen 4, he faced the first spirit, a Befuddle spell. Unfortunately for him, it possessed him. Mugumma Discorporated, exorcised the spirit, exercised Harmast’s body a little54, then returned to his own body. Embarrassed, Harmast tried again against an Ironhand 1 spirit. This time, he was successful.

On Empress-day, Harmast decided to try a little trick. We would march out of Silvereye and then backtrack until we could see what happened. If we were lucky, the defenders would leave the tower, in which case we would attack them unless they were far too big. If they were far too big, we could still retreat.

First however, we had to evacuate Silvereye. Harmast sent the entire population along and all the food that the populace had with ten Harmasti who would distribute the refugees.

We left Silvereye on Empress-day. We returned to it early Pamalt-day. They were still inside the tower. We then decided to ignore the tower and take a look at Orange Fire. The best way to get there was to go to Turn’s Drop and from there cross the mountains into Orange Fire.

We got to Turn’s Drop on Six-day of the end of week 8. When we got there, however, we could see a large pillar of smoke coming from the general direction of Crook Halt.

So we crossed the mountains to the trail leading to Crook Halt. We got there late on Ga- day. Crook Halt looked fine and the villagers said that the smoke came from the exiger stronghold.

Harmast decided to send all the Harmasti back to Mistvale except for Acari, and Borax.

With them and Harmast would go Thingol, Tortho, and Mugumma to scout out the exiger stronghold.

Before noon on Gata-day, we made it to the area where the stronghold was. We were on the cliff-side opposite the fort, so that we could see it clearly. Approaching from the rear of the fort, what part of the stronghold that we could see looked okay. There were lots of men-at-arms carrying something, and there were many slaves down by the river that ran through the ravine.

Moving around so that we could see the front of the stronghold, we hid while we watched.

In front, there were many burned trees. And we could see that the things the men-at-arms were carrying were in fact, burned corpses.

We returned to Mistvale with many questions. What was going on at the exiger fort? Were the Kujerungs attacking? We asked the villagers what they knew about the Kujerungs. They said that the Kujerungs supposedly specialized in thrown weapons. In fact, it was said that one of their weapons could take off a man’s leg at twenty meters distance. Though they outnumbered the

  1. A couple hundred push-ups while in full armor.

Brands by about five to one, and though they were more regimented than the Brands, the general opinion was that the Brands were better than the Kujerungs.

Plans about what to do ran rife. One suggestion was to try to coordinate an attack on the tower with a Kujerung attack on the exiger fort. Then if the tower really did contain a gate to the exiger fort, we might be able to take the Brands from behind. This plan was quickly shot down when it was pointed out that if the men in the tower found themselves under attack, they would probably just shut down the gate rather than let the exigers in the fort be attacked from two sides.

For the next few days, we stayed around Mistvale and trained in various things. Thingol trained in his sorcery skills, Mugumma went out onto the Spirit Plane to find spirits, and most of the rest trained in their weapons skills.

On Empress-day of week 10, Harmast led the Harmasti in worshipping Humakt on this, one of his Holy Days. Later that day, the old shaman came back. Harmast asked him for advice, for Harmast seemed to have lost some vital spark.

The shaman said to him that he could see that Harmast was weak magically speaking. He asked Harmast if he wanted some help spiritually. Harmast said yes, that he would especially like a Heal spell. The shaman replied that he did indeed have a Heal spell spirit attached to his fetch. He asked if Harmast would like to fight it. Harmast replied in the affirmative.

This time, Harmast successfully beat the spirit, and his POW went up too! Tortho fought a Slow 1 spell spirit that the shaman had and defeated it. Acari got a Protection 6 spell from the shaman too. Borax attempted to fight a spell spirit, but was possessed until Mugumma drove the spirit away.

The next day the shaman announced that he would be staying until the end of summer at Stormwood. But before he left, he asked what we would want to insure our attack on Orange Fire. Thingol replied that a gnome55 would be most helpful. The shaman said that he didn’t have a gnome but that he did have a sylph56. It was bound into a bag that he had, and he had a spirit which knew the spell Control Sylph. After a brief discussion, Mugumma’s fetch fought the spirit and learned the spell. Thingol made Mugumma promise that he would later create a spell matrix for the spell.

So on Witch-day, we all marched off to Orange Fire with the three wagons that remained.

  1. An earth elemental.
  2. An air elemental.

Chapter11

The Assault on Orange Fire

Late that day, we arrived in Crook Halt. We spent the night there, then continued the next morning. That day, Six-day, on our way, one of the wagons fell into the river that ran through the ravine. It was destroyed. Another wagon broke a wheel, but despite all our efforts, it turned out to be irreparable.

Around noon, we saw some men-at-arms as scouts, but they ran away. Finally on Ga-day of the eleventh week of summer, we arrived in Orange Fire. There was of course a palisade there. The villagers estimated their numbers at around fifty men-at-arms and one hundred slaves.

Harmast decided to try to use his reputation to avoid a fight. He shouted to the men-at-arms to surrender. In reply, a crossbow bolt landed some distance away from Harmast. Around it was tied a papyrus. Unrolling it, we could see a message written in some language that none of us could read57. Harmast shouted that we couldn’t read it, so they said to send someone over. Harmast got a volunteer and he went to the palisade. He came back some minutes later with the message from the men-at-arms.

They said that if Harmast would personally promise safe passage back to the exiger stronghold then they would surrender. After a quick discussion, Harmast shouted back that only the men-at-arms could come out with their weapons and armor — the slaves would have to be unarmed. Harmast said that they had until sundown to think it over.

A few minutes later, about a dozen pigeons flew out of the palisade. Thinking quickly, Tortho shot one of them down. The rest split up into two groups: one group headed towards the exiger stronghold, the other towards the nearer fort.

Sundown came and there was no reply from the palisade. Calling out to them, they said that they wanted more time to think it over. Harmast replied that their time was up. We readied ourselves for the assault.

Since we only had one wagon, we would only assault the palisade from two sides.

Assaulting the gate of the palisade were Harmast, Gorfang, Borax, Enkavar, Efger, 50 Harmasti and the wagon. Assaulting the rear of the palisade were Thingol, Slagstone, Worfang, Mugumma, Acari, Tortho, 50 Harmasti, and the sylph. The plan was for Harmast and company to use the wagon to scale the walls from the front while the sylph would distract the defenders of the rear to enable us to climb up ladders. The sylph was protected by a Damage Resist 11 cast by Thingol, a Countermagic 3 from Worfang, and a Protection 6 from Acari. Mugumma would be the controller of the sylph.

We started 120 meters away, just out of crossbow range. The attackers of the rear started to run as the front assaulters started to push the wagon. The crossbows shot while the party at the front was 100 meters away and the rear party was 90 meters. 30 bolts flew towards Harmast’s party and 20 towards Slagstone’s. 10 of Harmast’s Harmasti were heavily wounded while 20 were hurt in Slagstone’s, 10 of them badly. Tortho was hit and fell injured. Slagstone stopped to Heal him.

As we continued on, the slaves began to reload. They were ready to fire when Harmast’s party was 60 meters away and Slagstone’s 30 meters. Slagstone’s party was missed but 10 more of Harmast’s were wounded. Worfang had begun to move up behind Slagstone’s party and he completed the Healing of Tortho that Slagstone had started. Mugumma now commanded the sylph to knock over the defenders on the walls.

As the slaves again reloaded, the defenders showed themselves. About 40 massed at the

  1. It was written in Marit.

walls in front, and some 50 at the rear. By now Slagstone’s group had reached the walls while Harmast’s was still some 40 meters away, burdened by the wagon.

Crossbow bolts flew again, killing 10 each of Harmast’s and Slagstone’s groups. The sylph had reached the walls and was attacked by 10 of the defenders. One group of Harmasti successfully made it up the walls while the rest of them, some 20 or so, failed to scale the walls.

Now the slaves who had been shooting at Slagstone’s group dropped their crossbows and pulled out swords. The ones shooting at Harmast’s again reloaded. Harmast’s group had just reached the walls as the other defenders struck at Slagstone’s group. Many of them were set on fire as the 10 on the walls made no progress. The sylph continued to throw defenders off the wall.

Harmast’s group shoved the wagon against the walls and began to swarm up it as the slaves fired their crossbows again. More Harmasti fell injured as Harmast gained the wall. More of Slagstone’s group had gained the wall while those on top still could make no progress. Those still at the bottom were set on fire again by the poles. Slagstone had no gained the walls and the sylph, now half-destroyed still threw defenders off the walls.

The Harmasti on the walls in Slagstone’s group who had been set aflame earlier now succumbed to the flames. The other Harmasti finally made progress as they killed some of the defenders. Thingol started the process of Palsying defenders. Harmast’s group however, was in serious trouble. Efger was knocked off the wall. Gorfang was hit twice and injured. Harmast noticed that he had only a handful of men to fight the many defenders and so called a retreat on his side.

Slagstone heard the call to retreat that Harmast gave, but decided to keep his group on the wall. The Harmasti who hadn’t made it onto the wall now succumbed to the flames inflicted on them. The Harmasti with him made no more progress and when Slagstone’s leg armor was set afire, he too called for a retreat.

We retreated out of crossbow range and took account. We had lost the remaining wagon and all the ladders that we had built. More importantly, we had lost 25 Harmasti. We estimated that we had perhaps killed seven of them.

The next morning, the villagers of Orange Fire did some recruiting within the village and came up with 73 more people who were willing to become Harmasti. Harmast accepted them gratefully. He then decided to begin training of a crossbow regiment with the crossbows we had. He therefore sent Acari, Gorfang, and Tortho along with ten Harmasti to begin training. In addition, he sent the 73 new Harmasti back to get them armed and armored. He also sent five veteran Harmasti to scout out the exiger stronghold.

Seeing as the men-at-arms would not leave their palisade, we stayed here and trained until the scouts returned on Gata-day of week 12. They said that they had seen in the valley below the stronghold a line of camps which headed towards Kujerung land. And from what they could tell, the stronghold was filled with people.

Harmast thought that perhaps now was the time to talk to the Kujerungs. consequently, he, Slagstone, Thingol, Gorfang, Worfang, Mugumma, Acari, Borax, Tortho, and ten Harmasti headed towards the exiger stronghold. We arrived at the encampment on the first day of autumn.

Harmast said that he was going to go down into the encampment alone. He told us not to worry unless he hadn’t come back by nightfall.

He climbed down the side of the valley and walked towards the camp. A dozen men on horseback then rode towards him. He stopped and stood his ground. About ten paces from him, they stopped and with weapons drawn told him to take off his helm. They were visibly shocked when they saw that he was white. They then told him to hold onto his helmet with both hands and to

follow them. He did so and they took him to a tent. It was then that Harmast noticed that the twelve who were escorting him were in fact exigers! What had fooled him was the fact that they were all armored similarly. Then he remembered that the Kujerungs were supposedly more regimental than the Brands.

Inside the tent were five more exigers. Behind a table there was another exiger who had extremely ornamented armor.

“So tell me why we shouldn’t kill you,” said the exiger.

“I’m Harmast Nightblade. I have come to inquire about your intentions for the Brands.” “Are you a Brand?”

“No.” 

“Then what business is it of yours?”

“I am in command of a force trying to defeat the Brands.” “Are you a Viter?”

“No.” 

“A bandit then?”

“I represent the people of the Brand valleys. We are trying to throw off the yoke of the Brands.” And Harmast told the exiger of our exploits.

“I see. That explains certain things. But tell me why we shouldn’t kill you?” “I am hoping that we could ally together and defeat the Brands.”

“Ah, so you would attack from the rear while we attacked the front?” said the exiger, referring to the Brand stronghold.

“I was hoping that we could both attack the front.”

“As you can see, only a limited number can attack from either side.”

“If I may ask, are you trying to take over all the Brand lands?” asked Harmast. “We wish to turn it into a satellite state.”

“Do you think you will succeed?”

“Well, thanks to you they are definitely weaker now. Tell me, just what are you proposing?

Would you be willing to control the conquered lands?”

“What would that entail?”

“You would have to give us tribute of course. And allow us free passage through the pass.

And,” and here he paused slightly, “you would never be attacked by us.”

“Is that all you want?”

“It would greatly improve our standard of living if we controlled these lands. It is a strategic

pass through the Qualyorni Pass. And since the Hookhill’s are moving and it seems war is coming, it is always nice to have a buffer zone.”

“Do you have excess population that you want to move in? Or do you just want to control the lands?”

“Some of our population might want to move. Of course you can tax them all you please.

And of course as our vassals, you would have to fight with us.”

“Are you in danger of losing much of your force?” “No. We didn’t expect to take them in the first assault.” “How can we assist?”

“Take them from behind. We want to make them surrender. I assume you wish to kill them

all?”

“Yes.”

“I suppose that would be all right. Do you know how many Brands there are left?” “Twenty-six or so. I will be back.”

“We are not going to assault them until Empress-day. Can you help us fight then?” “No. But I will try to be back within seven days.”

“Okay. I’ll see you within the week.”

Later that day, Harmast returned to us. As we headed back to Orange Fire he told us of his

encounter. Some of us favored the idea, some of us didn’t.

We made it back to Orange Fire on Six-day of that week. We then sent out messengers to all the major valleys calling for a meeting. Then we sat back and waited.

On Empress-day of the second week, our guards reported that eight Brand exigers were riding into the valley. At the head of the delegation was Amadsan. He said that they wished to speak to Harmast. Harmast called the rest of us and we sat down to speak to them.

“I guess you know about the Kujerungs.” “Yes,” answered Harmast.

“Have you talked to them?” “Yes.”

“What did they offer you?”

“Nothing that I want to explain to you,” retorted Harmast.

“It is obvious that you and I cannot come to terms. I have come to point out that the Kujerungs are not your friends. They probably said that they want free passage through the mountains. Our greatest income was from charging them for passage. And they want tribute, correct? How much? You are going to have to take as much from the menials as we do. You will certainly never see the inside of our stronghold and the two forts — the Kujerungs will take them.

In short, you will be their slaves. I therefore propose a cessation of hostilities until the Kujerungs are gone. I promise that we will not attack you. And,” he spoke less confidently, “we could use food too.”

Harmast asked, “What would you give us for food?”

“We would fight the Kujerungs. You must admit that we fight better than you do.” As Harmast looked skeptical, Amadsan added, “And there are 300 Kujerung exigers.”

The rest of us looked shocked. We conferred briefly and then Harmast told Amadsan that we would need time to make our decision.

Amadsan replied, “That is no problem. We will extend the truce and stay here until you reach one.”

And so they did. They set up their own camp away from Mistvale.

The next day the headmen of the villages all arrived. At the meeting, Harmast asked them what they thought of the Kujerung’s offer. The headmen agreed that the taxes would be higher, but that we would not collect them in such a bloodthirsty manner. Tiburo remarked that the exigers never lie, but that they never treat anyone fairly.

We went back to the Brands. Harmast asked how long the cessation of hostilities would be.

Amadsan replied that the Kujerungs would not stay long into the winter. He said that they would come and tell us when they were ready to fight us again. Harmast was uneasy at giving aid to the exigers. Amadsan told Harmast that we should probably do it — the worst case for us would be if the Brands surrendered and then joined the Kujerungs to wipe us out.

Given the true situation, Harmast relented. We started to discuss terms. Harmast asked if they would take all their men out of the forts and palisades. Amadsan replied that they probably would not take their men out of the forts unless we promised to leave them when we started fighting again.

After some dickering, the terms were hammered out: There would be a cessation of hostilities, the ending of it to be notified by the Brands. The Brands would take all their men out of the palisades and we would be allowed to do what we want with them. In return for helping them take all the food out of their forts, they would vacate them and let us occupy them until the restarting of hostilities, when we would vacate them.

So now we had an unwritten alliance with those whose rule we had sought to overthrow.

Chapter12

HeroQuesting

By Empress-day of the third week of autumn, we had finished helping the Brands move all the food out of their forts. We then took possession of them. Strangely enough, the forts were literally carved out of the rock surrounding them. We didn’t think that the Brands had the technology to do this. The obvious solution was that the Gray Ones had made these. But for what purpose?

A week later, Humakt had a Holy Day. Harmast officiated at the ceremony back at Mistvale and all was well until the very end. Harmast noticed that the pommel of the sword was beginning to grow larger and turn golden-colored. Then the congregation turned misty and he could see a man walking towards him. A man with a flanged sword. Khanda. Looking behind him, he could see the raven, the globe, and the dark warrior there too. Harmast grabbed the temple sword with his right hand and drew one of his own in his left.

As Khanda approached Harmast, he cast a Truesword on himself, as did Khanda. Then they both cast Shield, Harmast successfully casting one point, Khanda failing to. Then they fought.

Harmast, recalling his last encounter with Khanda, struck at his sword. He successfully damaged it. In return, Khanda struck but Harmast fumbled his parry58. Khanda’s strike hit Harmast’s abdomen and he fell, injured. But before Khanda could strike again, Harmast cast Heal Wound on himself and rose, healed. Khanda swung again and hit Harmast’s right arm. The arm was injured enough that Harmast had to drop the iron sword. Quickly, he dropped the sword in his left and picked up the iron sword.

Harmast swung at Khanda’s sword and it snapped in two. Khanda then dropped to the ground to pick up the fallen piece. He then quickly cast a Repair spell and the sword was mended. While Khanda did this, Harmast swung again and hit Khanda in the right leg, injuring him slightly.

Harmast now took to trying to shatter Khanda’s sword again. Khanda, still trying to hit Harmast, was parried and the blow tinked. As Harmast swung again at Khanda’s sword, he again tinked because of Harmast’s parry. Finally Harmast was able to snap Khanda’s sword again. And again Khanda stooped to pick up the pieces. While he did this, Harmast hit Khanda in the right leg, injuring it enough so that Khanda couldn’t stand on it.

Khanda, having failed to Repair his sword, now pulled out his kukri and cast a Heal Wound on his leg. Harmast hit again, but the blow was parried and thus tinked. Again Harmast hit while Khanda again tried to Repair his sword. He hit Khanda in the right leg, again injuring his leg.

Khanda failed to cast his Repair spell.

Harmast hit, but Khanda parried and so the blow tinked. And again Khanda failed to Repair his sword. Now Harmast hit and Khanda’s kukri snapped too. But Khanda had managed to Repair his sword and brandished it.

Harmast hit Khanda’s sword again and snapped it in one blow. Khanda now tried to cast a Sever Spirit, but he failed to cast it. Harmast’s blow at Khanda tinked. Again Khanda tried to cast his Sever Spirit and he did. His chances were not good59, but the spell overcame Harmast.

But it didn’t kill him! The spell merely paralyzed Harmast, rendering him incapable of any action, including spell casting. Khanda, crawling because of his injured leg, took the golden globe from the raven, crawled off, then disappeared. Then Harmast’s paralysis left him, and the people

  1. Lose next attack and parry.
  2. Khanda’s magic points were 1, while Harmast’s were 4.

around him became solid again. To his surprise, all of the Harmasti had seen his fight, but no non- Humakti had seen it. They had simply seen Harmast disappear again, then re-appear.

Greatly disturbed, Harmast talked to the old shaman and asked him about the globe and told him of his encounters with the raven. He said that he didn’t know what significance the golden globe had, but he thought that he might be able to bring the bird to Harmast. He told Harmast to wait outside the valley all night and that the bird should come to him.

Harmast did this, and around midnight, the raven arrived. The only things he could sense were the sounds it made and its eyes, which glowed.

“What can I do to get the globe back?” asked Harmast.

“The globe is called the Globe to be Greatly Desired. Your opponent is now the Knight of the Globe. The only way to retrieve it is to beat him the way he beat you.”

“How can I do that?”

“You must be in the right place at the right time. Get him in a situation where he is either attacking or being attacked by his enemies. Then you must be one of the force he is attacking or being attacked by. Then you and he will be drawn to the circle. The best way to achieve this is when he is fighting the Kujerungs.”

And then the raven disappeared.

The next morning, Harmast left with Slagstone and ten Harmasti to go to the exiger stronghold.

While Harmast was on his way to the stronghold, the Kujerungs attacked the Brand stronghold again on Six-day. The scouts there came back to Mistvale on Empress-day of the next week. They said that the attack had been beaten off and, more significantly, there were trolls helping the Kujerungs.

Harmast reached the stronghold on Ga-day of week 5. He and the rest of them settled down for a long wait. Finally, the Empress-day of week 6, the Kujerungs attacked again. Harmast prepared himself.

Soon, Khanda appeared to help the defenders. Harmast began a small Ceremony to help boost his chance of casting Bladesharp 10. He failed that attempt, but managed to succeed without using Ceremony for Harmast had no idea how long Khanda would remain visible. He then cast Truesword.

After he had finished, the scenery around him began to fade out again. He saw a bridge connecting his side of the canyon to where Khanda was. He crossed the bridge over the canyon. Khanda, surprised, looked around him and saw the raven, the Globe, and the warrior behind him. And he saw Harmast coming towards him.

Harmast hit as Khanda parried, injuring his right arm. Khanda hit back, but without a Truesword and with Harmast parrying, got nowhere. Harmast hit again, critically, and despite Khanda’s parry, severed Khanda’s right arm.

Just after Khanda had managed to cast Heal Wound on himself, Harmast swung again, this time tinking. He swung again and injured Khanda’s right leg. Then Khanda fumbled his attack and Harmast broke Khanda’s sword. Khanda immediately pulled out his kukri. Harmast swung again and severed Khanda’s right arm again. Khanda’s Heal Wound failed and then Harmast buried his sword in Khanda’s stomach. Harmast had won.

Untouched, Harmast went over to the Globe and took it. As he did so, he felt his Rune spells come back to him and in addition, he realized what he was supposed to do with the Globe to be Greatly Desired. If he were to throw it up into the air and while it is in the air, cut down as many people in battle as possible, and then catch the Globe, it would be very good for Harmast. To help him, he could expend points of Will60 to keep the Globe up in the air longer.

Harmast decided to expend enough Will to keep the Globe up in the air for two minutes.

As soon as he threw the Globe up into the air, he found himself back in the ‘real world’. He was in the exiger stronghold. There was an exiger in front of him and a troll climbing up behind him. He struck the exiger, wounding his right arm despite the parry. Then he hit the troll in the right arm, who fell to his death.

Two men-at-arms came towards Harmast as the exiger Healed himself. Harmast cast Truesword on his other sword as well, then swung at the exiger again, killing him. One of the men- at-arms hit Harmast, setting his left leg armor afire. In return, Harmast sliced the man’s abdomen open, killing him. The other man-at-arms hit Harmast’s right leg, again setting the armor afire.

Harmast then hit the man in the left leg, downing him.

With no immediate foes around him, Harmast put out one of the fires on him. Then another exiger with two men-at-arms came at him. Harmast swung at the exiger twice, injuring his left leg. The two men-at-arms missed, and Harmast’s right leg took some damage from the heat.

With one minute remaining, Harmast cast Heal Wound on himself, then put out the last fire, while the men-at-arms Healed the exiger. Then Harmast and the exiger traded blows. Both the men- at-arms hit, and both of Harmast’s arm armor was set afire. Harmast first hit the exiger again in the left leg, then cast Shield 2 on himself.

Harmast hit the exiger again, who didn’t parry. The exiger went down and the men-at-arms tried to Heal him. They didn’t, so the exiger died. Then Harmast hit one of the men-at-arms, severing the left leg of one. The other man-at-arms tinked and then had his right leg chopped off by Harmast.

Harmast had only a few seconds left. He was burning in three separate locations and there was time to either put out those fires, or kill the three helpless men-at-arms. He chose to put out the fires and managed to do so. Then he caught the Globe.

As he did so, he felt a surge of energy go through him. Then the raven from the HeroQuest flew down and grabbed the Globe from him.

Harmast was still on the stronghold. To get down, he started to climb down the assault ladder that he had knocked the troll off of. Climbing down, his way was obstructed by two trolls coming up. The first he hit in the head. The troll fell off, hit in the head, due to the inimical nature of iron on trolls. The second, hit in the right arm, also fell.

Harmast was now at the bottom of the ladder. There were four ways he could go. He could go back up the ladder, head towards where the main armies were massed, up the cliff he had just climbed down, or down towards the river level. He wisely chose the latter. But before he made it, four Kujerungs threw what looked like swastikas at him. Two of them hit, but they both tinked.

Harmast made it safely to the bottom, then headed back towards Crook Halt. On the way, he

  1. In Glorantha, there are two kinds of people: those who can generate Will, and those who can use it. These categories are mutually exclusive. The number of points of Will one has depends on the abilities of the person. Thus, if Harmast were to use Will by throwing up the Globe, he would be forever unable to generate more Will. This does not mean that he could never gain Will, but rather that he could never get any more Will from himself. Harmast, by the calculations, had 142 points of Will. By contrast, the average person has a Will of around 15.

was met by the ten Harmasti who said that Slagstone had gone down to talk to the troll king. They headed back towards Mistvale.

And what of Slagstone? He made it past the armies and asked to see the queen. It seemed that the Kujerungs had made a very good offer to them: in return for their help, they would receive the valley of Halfwing, plus control over all the valleys that the Brands controlled. In fact, the deal sounded very much like what the Kujerungs offered Harmast.

Slagstone quickly caught up with Harmast and they made it back to Mistvale on Pamalt-day of week 6.

There they were in for a surprise. For Simon the Fanatic, Tim the Encounter, and Ferric had returned! Plus they brought with them three wagons, the second of which had Slagstone’s son, the bison, and Gorfang’s avalanche, which was some twelve feet long. The first contained their belongings, and the third contained Tim’s Anything Egg, some three meters across!

What had happened is that on Ga-day of week 6, a messenger from the fort near Many Gorges had said that a wagon train was there claiming friendship with Harmast Nightblade. With Harmast gone, the rest of us went there and discovered who it really was. They made it to Mistvale early Empress-day, the same day as the Kujerung assault on the Brand stronghold.

We explained the situation to them. Tim was annoyed that the black ovoid was gone, but there was nothing he could do about it. It was safely in the hands of the trolls.

For the next week, we sat around training. Tim and Thingol seemed to have made up for the past. During all the free time, Worfang had gone onto the Spirit Plane and had brought back many spell spirits for us to defeat. Gorfang asked the old shaman to try to find out what the avalanche did. He said that he would try.

Harmast also discovered what power he had gained from the Globe. By expending points of Will, he could strike five blows in the space of time an ordinary person could strike two61!

On Empress-day of the seventh week, the shaman returned. He said that he had discovered the powers of the avalanche but that he would be gone for a while, to fulfill the promises he had made in determining its powers. He said that wherever Gorfang was to release it, that’s where it would make its home. Then he would be able to call upon it to make an avalanche, but only in the place where he had released it. Gorfang pondered on the powers of the avalanche.

  1. Since he had killed four persons, Harmast can now strike, in addition to his normal blows, on strike ranks 8, 9, and 10 at his normal percentage to hit

Chapter13

The Final Battle

Harmast now wanted to try to do something about the tower in Silvereye. So we headed there and got there on Witch-day of week 8. We discovered that the floor that had the door to the exiger stronghold was missing! Harmast started to demolish the tower, but stopped when he realized that there was something more pressing.

He wanted to set loose the avalanche so as to do his part in the war. So off we went. We arrived on Ga-day of the ninth week. There were heaps of bodies in the valley floor. The Kujerungs were in their camps with men-at-arms on patrols. Set apart from them, and with nobody around them, were black tents. We assumed this was the troll encampment. There also seemed to be a temple of some sort set up in the camp as a whole, undoubtedly to let the Kujerungs get their Rune spells back.

The big question was, where should the avalanche be set loose? Should it block the back, thus sealing in the Brands, unless they had another, secret, exit? Or should it seal the front, allowing the Brands to escape but denying the Kujerungs the stronghold? After a fierce discussion, Harmast decided to wait for an attack by the Kujerungs, and then release the avalanche on the front.

The scouts which had been staying here had told us that the Kujerungs attacked on Gata- day and Witch-day, always at the same time, just after sunrise62. As we marveled at the use of psychological warfare, we spent the night in anticipation.

The next morning, just after sunrise, the Kujerungs attacked. The first wave of men numbered 60, two rows of thirty. One in four was carrying an assault ladder. Fifty feet behind the first wave was another group of 60. There were no trolls in this attack, nor were there any exigers.

When they got within 100 meters, the defenders fired their crossbows. First the ladder- carrying men went down, followed by the rest. Worfang noticed, with his Farsee, that the men looked strangely. Perhaps they were under the influence of Fanaticism or drugs?

The fourth wave had finally managed to place their ladders against the side of the fort. Now a group of exigers was put in the line leading to the stronghold by the leaders. Harmast now decided the time was right to set the avalanche loose. Just as the first exigers approached the stronghold, Gorfang urged the avalanche down the hill.

The avalanche hesitated for a moment, then ran down the hill. We could hear its voice roaring its noise, and we could see its head at the front of the avalanche. When it finally ended, we could see that the avalanche had covered about 100 feet of the trail, and had dropped a lot of stone and dirt even on the stronghold itself, smashing open the door. The group of exigers who had been directing the assault stood there, seemingly in disbelief.

Gorfang, who had been the closest to the avalanche, fortunately jumped back away from the edge in time. The exiger group was now casting magic, probably to determine if there was any life inside.

The Kujerungs started to clear away some of the debris while the Brands frantically tried to repair the door. We sat the rest of the day in fascination.

Towards the end of the day, Gorfang went towards the edge of the cliff. There he found a hollow and, as he approached, he saw the avalanche fade in. It recognized Gorfang and gave a

  1. The reader may wonder about a seeming incongruity. There is none. The attack that Harmast got the Globe back was a special attack.

contented growling.

While we watched, an arrow suddenly flew towards us. It landed, and we could see that there was a scroll tied around it. Harmast picked up the arrow, which quivered as though someone had put Telekinesis on it, then unwrapped the scroll. On it, in Western, was written, “Et tu, Harmast?63” Harmast wrote, “Yes” on it, retied it around the arrow, then let it go. It flew back towards the stronghold.

Finally, we decided to head back to Mistvale. As we reached the trail, some of our Harmasti were waiting there. They were scouts from the stronghold and they told us that about two hours after we had left, the Brands stopped repairing the gate. Then, about an hour later, a whole horde of men-at-arms and slaves came out of the fort, trying to get away from the Kujerungs. “The slaughter was great.” Some of them had gone out the back way and had escaped the wrath of the Kujerungs, some two or three hundred, heading towards Orange Fire.

Some of us were extremely concerned with what a horde that size might do, but Harmast ignored them for the moment and returned to Mistvale. We arrived there on Gata-day of week 10. Here Harmast asked about the possibility of accepting Brand refugees. What they basically said was that they would not at all accept any men-at-arms, and were indifferent to the slaves.

Harmast now sent out a small force in hopes of occupying the Brand stronghold. Acari, Mugumma, Enkavar and two Harmasti were sent out later that day. As soon as we collected our force of Harmasti, we marched to Orange Fire. We arrived there on Witch-day to see a grisly sight. Fifty gallows had been set up and dangling from them were fifty men-at-arms. A distance away, many new graves had been used.

Asking the obvious slave leader what happened, we learned the whole story. After the Brands had stopped trying to repair the gate to the stronghold, the remaining exigers, sixteen in all, went downstairs. They never came back up. Investigating, they found one exiger dead and the rest missing. Obviously, they had made their escape. The men-at-arms and slaves panicked and tried to escape the Kujerungs. Of those that reached Orange Fire, differing opinions had risen between the men-at-arms and the slaves. The men-at-arms then tried to kill the slaves, who then took them captive. When they had heard that Harmast himself was coming, the slaves hung the men-at-arms as a sign of good faith.

So now we had an additional 350 people to feed. They said that they would like to return to their own small valleys, to the north of the major valleys, in the mountains. Harmast said that would probably not be possible, but that until he could figure out what to do, they could stay in Orange Fire. We then left for Crook Halt, leaving ten Harmasti behind.

We arrived there on Six-day to learn from the scouts that the Kujerungs had occupied the Brand stronghold, and that they were working to clear away the rubble. In addition to beginning construction of a wall across the entrance to Crook Halt from the exiger stronghold, Harmast decided to try to use the avalanche again. So Gorfang, Ferric, Slagstone, Mugumma, Enkavar, Tortho, Thingol, and eight Harmasti went to the exiger stronghold, arriving there on Pamalt-day of week 11.

Gorfang went to the avalanche. He urged it to do its thing. It appeared willing, and Gorfang nudged it down the correct route. As luck would have it, a Kujerung supply train was approaching the stronghold. Gorfang released the avalanche at the correct moment. When the dust cleared, three of the eight wagons were demolished, and the path to the stronghold was blocked again. They returned to Crook Halt on Gata-day of the 12th week.

There had been no word from Silvereye. Some of us were concerned that the Brand exigers had used the Doorway to escape to the tower in Silvereye. Harmast did not believe they had done

63Of course it wasn’t really written in Latin, but it was appropriate at the time.

so.

On Pamalt-day of this week, 15 trolls approached us during the day. They first asked if we

had control of the avalanche. Harmast said that we did. The troll spokesman then said that meant the Kujerungs can’t get any reinforcements, and that they can’t invade Brand land any farther. He also said that the trolls might be able to help Harmast take the exiger stronghold. Harmast asked what the trolls wanted in return. He said Halfwing. When Harmast seemed reticent, he was reminded that there were 120 trolls warriors available for service.

Harmast voiced his suspicions about treachery. The troll said that they were only on their own side, but that as long as it was in their best interest to support Harmast, they would do so and that the trolls could be counted on to always do what would be in their best interest. As further argument, he also said that there were approximately 100 Kujerung exigers in the stronghold.

Perhaps this information changed Harmast’s mind. He accepted the offer and told the trolls to come when they had more information. The troll said that he and the rest of his entourage were supposedly here to scout out our defenses. Harmast told them to tell the Kujerungs that we only had a ditch and around 100 men. Of course we actually had around 150 men, and much more than just a ditch, but it was a half-truth rather than a lie.

After the trolls left, we went back to Mistvale to talk to the headmen of all the villages. The conference took place on Six-day of week 12. Harmast told them of the trolls’ offer. Though the headman of Halfwing was reluctant to give his valley away, he saw the need for the trolls’ help.

Two questions that the headmen asked that neither Harmast nor the rest of us had answers to was where the Brands were and what had happened to the Gray Man.

Harmast and Simon got into an argument about Harmast’s final plans for the trolls.

Harmast wanted to use the trolls for their help, and then dispose of them after the fight. Simon said that it was not right and reminded Harmast of his geas to never participate in an ambush.

Shortly thereafter, we assembled all our men and marched to Crook Halt. On Ga-day, the first day of winter, two trolls came to Crook Halt. Harmast told them that he had accepted their offer. The trolls told Harmast that the Kujerungs were going to attack Crook Halt with 400 men, plus the trolls! He said that the 120 trolls should be able to kill about 100 of them before they catch on. In addition, the rest of the trolls, 100 of them, would attempt to take the stronghold, which would be nearly empty. He asked for help in the form of the avalanche. Harmast agreed and Gorfang and Ferric were dispatched.

On Empress-day, the Kujerungs attacked. They were in five rows of 100 men or trolls, plus 20 behind them. We were on top of our wall with 100 men plus 60 reinforcements. Leading the wall groups were Efger in one, Borax and Acari in another, Harmast, Slagstone, and Simon in the middle one, Tortho in another, and Mugumma in the last. Thingol, Worfang, Enkavar, and Tim led the reinforcements.

The front row of 100 crossed the ditch, laid ladders and began to swarm up the wall. We waited until they reached the top. Efger’s group managed to push their attackers back as had Borax’s group. Harmast’s group pushed back some, but not all of their attackers. Tortho’s group failed to knock their attackers back; the attackers gained the wall. Mugumma’s group also just managed to hold them off.

Now their crossbowmen fired at our exposed groups. They hit, and reinforcements were sent to help them. Our crossbowmen fired, injuring a group of their crossbowmen. Efger’s attackers gained the wall as did Mugumma’s. Tortho’s group held their attackers to their position as Harmast’s group destroyed their attackers. Borax’s group too managed to defeat their attackers. The trolls now attacked from their positions. Attacking, they managed to put about 40 men out of action, and injuring another 20.

Harmast, perhaps not noticing what was going on around, or perhaps to come to the aid of the trolls, yelled, “Over the walls!” He and the rest of his group started down the wall as did Borax’s group. Meanwhile, Efger’s group was killed by the men-at-arms fighting them. Tortho’s group too was put out of action. Mugumma’s group tinked back and forth. The trolls managed to badly wound 40 more Kujerungs but at a cost of losing 20 of their own.

The reinforcements sent to Efger’s aid were promptly cut down by the men-at-arms, but not before injuring many of them. Tortho’s reinforcements tinked as did Mugumma’s group. Borax’s group had just made it down when the crossbowmen fired again, hitting his group and Acari too.

Harmast’s group headed to help the trolls, who had eliminated some of the crossbowmen, but also losing 40 of their own due to being fought three on one.

Borax’s group and 20 of the remaining trolls finished off the remaining crossbowmen.

Efger now headed towards the others, yelling that there were more men-at-arms on the wall. Tortho’s group was injured while on the wall as Thingol and Tim and Worfang assisted them. Mugumma and the attackers he was fighting injured each other. Harmast’s group attacked a group attacking the trolls from behind, putting it out of action. One group of trolls tinked back and forth as the other, facing three to one odds fell.

Borax’s and the trolls who had eliminated the crossbowmen now put another group out of action. Harmast’s group attacked an exiger group, wounding it slightly. Tortho’s group was killed by the men-at-arms facing it as Mugumma’s continued to tink. Another group of trolls was cut down, but 40 still remained.

Borax and the trolls he was fighting with cut down men-at-arms as Harmast put some of the exigers out of action, though losing most of his group in the process. Another troll group was eliminated but Mugumma managed to kill the attackers facing him.

A group of exigers had managed to separate themselves from the melee and threw their weapons. Efger fell dead on the wall as did some of Borax’s men on the field. One of the last remaining troll groups was injured, though the last one fought on valiantly. Acari, for Borax had been hit and felled, ordered his group to attack the exigers who had thrown the weapons and managed to hold his own. On the wall, Mugumma’s group, the remnants of the other groups, plus the magicians also held their own on the wall.

The troll group which had just been injured succumbed to their wounds but not before eliminating some exigers. The other troll group fought the exigers to a standstill. Acari’s and Harmast’s groups eliminated the weapon-throwing exigers. Tortho, Mugumma, and the magicians successfully attacked the attackers still on the walls. There remained now only 40 exigers on the field and some 10 men-at-arms on the walls. On our side, there was a troll group plus Acari’s and Harmast’s group as well as Mugumma’s, Tortho’s and the magicians on the wall.

The exigers fought valiantly, but they could not stand up to Harmast. One by one they fell, dead or wounded.

When the bodies were counted, out of a total of 155 Harmasti, 84 of them survived. And of 120 trolls, 66 of them survived. All of the exigers were either already dead or were killed. The surviving men-at-arms, some 150, were stripped of their armor and weapons and released.

We had won.

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