Chronicles of the Loremaster It was morning in the Forest of Rachmaninov. Almirith sat on the riverbank and watched the river salmon that was swimming up against the steam. He turned his face to the direction of the White Realm. Behind the Forest of Rachmaninov was the Great Plains of Aridness. Beyond that lay the Forest of Truth and the White Realm. He was far from home, but still he felt that every place was like a home to him. That was the way of the ranger, he thought. To have the ability of making a living everywhere, no matter how hard that would be. Suddenly Almirith heard a sound, a sound that came from far, far away. The sound came in his direction and at a great speed. “Cavalry… light cavalry,” he whispered for himself. He bent his head to the ground, and he heard what he thought he would hear. Between fifty and sixty horsemen were heading his way. Almirith picked up his axe, his bow and his quiver, ran up to the road fifty meters up from the riverbank and climbed an oak on the other side of the road. Only a few minutes later a small company, between fifty and sixty horsemen, arrived around the bend of the road some seventy meters away. None of them were dressed in uniform nor did they have any familiar signs on them. They were dressed in leather armour, and all of them carried short bows on their back, and swords on their sides. Some of them had short, throwing spears too. Almirith did not recognise the outfitting of the horsemen since they did not have any type of signs or emblems. But he had no need for that, for in the front of the formation rode two men he knew. Sir Fubarbundy and Sir HuggyFrog. Almirith dropped from the tree. “A long time has passed since you walked your footsteps in the White Realm, Sir Fubarbundy and Sir HuggyFrog,” Almirith called out to them. The horsemen stopped in front of him and HuggyFrog reached and grabbed Almirith’s welcoming hand. “We’re still not there, Almirith,” HuggyFrog said, “but I understand we’re close, by the sight of a familiar face like yours.” Almirith shook his hand, and turned to shake hands with Fubarbundy, but the knight had already dismounted. He gave Almirith a big hug. “Thanks for that,” Almirith said with a smile on his lips, “try to not to crush me next time.” “Thanks for the sarcasm,” said Fubarbundy with a big smile all over his face. “Will you ride with us to the rest of the way Almirith?” asked HuggyFrog, “unless you were busy with something. At least to the borders of the White Realm. I want to pay a visit to the Overlord before we go to the White City.” “Not at all, just let meg go and get my horse and equipment,” Almirith said, and ran into the forest to find his hiding place. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The following night they made camp in the Great Plains of Aridness. Not many people lived there, except the large human settlement to the south which was ruled over by Lord Castoden. The horsemen, who were all warriors chosen from the Wolf Company and Branalbinn’s Guard, put up around 20 tents beneath some large hills on the plains. After that they created camp fires and celebrated that they were now finally not far from their homeland. HuggyFrog, Fubarbundy and Almirith sat around a camp fire for themselves. HuggyFrog and Fubarbundy told Almirith about the journey to the Jungles of Mu, about the lizard-people living there and how the negotiations for peace had proceeded. “I’m still irritated there was no fighting”, murmured Fubarbundy. “That’s a good thing actually,” HuggyFrog responded, “they seemed to be quite skilled in travelling through the jungle quickly. And they also use quite deadly poison, one of the jungle masters showed that too me. I would not have liked fighting a war against them in the jungle.” Fubarbundy nodded in agreement and drank more ale. “But tell me Almirith, how has thing been here in the White Realm while we were away. Trouble on the borders?” said HuggyFrog. “We have not had a single skirmish with the beasts in a long time. Some of us actually believe that they are having trouble on their own, fighting against themselves. Others again are pessimistic, believing that it is only quiet before the evitable storm. Still we have had no troubles at the borders, or with other nations or rulers like Maga Khan. But we have had some trouble internal unfortunately.” HuggyFrog bent forward curiously. “What kind of trouble,” he asked. “Well, there has been stirrings in some of the counties. Apparently some people have launched verbal attacks at the White Counsil saying that we really have no clue at what is going on in the White Realm. They have called us power-hungry fools who earn our positions on previous wars. My friend James Castoden is one of them. Also Sebastian demands complete independence.” “What?” Fubarbundy dropped his mug on the ground. “But they are in fact already independent,” HuggyFrog protested rashly, “They don’t pay tax the same way as the other counties. They have complete control of the their own soldiers with no need whatsoever to respond to any calls of help from the White Counsil nor any of the other leaders of the other counties or towns. They even have their own fleet for goodness sake.” “They are independent in every sense except formally,” Almirith said, “Sebastian wants the Empire of the East to be recognized as a realm on it’s own.” “But why,” HuggyFrog asked. “Who knows?” Fubarbundy answered, “I have never understood those weird eastern men. At least Sebastian himself is a fairly reasonable guy, but his advisors and court?” Fubarbundy spat on the ground. “Who knows this”? HuggyFrog turned too “Actually not many people do yet. The ambassadors have been sent to the White City to tell the lord and the council itself, and they will be there within a few days. But myself and High Marshal Andy of the Warriors of Mjolnir managed to learn it quite early thanks too Master Adam. Andy have already ridden too the White City and he intends too bring it up before the council before the ambassadors have made audience with Lord Sunnycool themselves. It’s important that we discuss this before that happens.” “When will the next council meeting be?” Fubarbundy asked. “In five days.” “I intend to pay the Overlord a visit before that time. He already knows we’re on our way, but in that case we will be late I think,” HuggyFrog informed the others. “That’s alright. I will leave you in the morning since I want to pay a visit to a friend of mine. After that I will ride straight to the White City.” Almirith stood up and nodded to Fubarbundy, then he turned and disappeared into the darkness -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Overlord Ubiquitous sat in his library in his castle and studied some ancient writings. The writings told about some ancient creatures living in the Forest of Rachmaninov, now unfortunately almost extinct. Ubiquitous had ordered scouts to the place to verify the information. If they were true, he thought… if they were true he would have to travel there and search for the creatures himself. No matter how dangerous that would be. If the scouts did not return he would have to send someone else, someone better… maybe one of the other knights would help him. The Overlord rose from his desk and walked out of the library. He crossed his great hallway, passed all the ancient knight-armours that stood there and entered the Room of the World. The room was empty, except for two things, one giant magical light-globe that hang in the roof, given it to him by Princess Louise. The other thing was on the floor, a giant map that was painted on the stones. It was enormous, and it existed nothing like it in the whole realm. He walked towards the Great Plains of Aridness and looked at it. Almirith was there, he knew that. But now he was returning to the realm together with someone else. Someone familiar. His eyes moved to the White Realm, over the Great Plains, over the Trees of the Truthseeker, past the Tower of Trust, over the River of Right, through the Spider Forest to the Great White City. “Rabble is leaving,” he whispered, “he has entered the domain of Maga Khan far to the east. But another one is still here.” Suddenly he looked upon Ortin Port, the Castle of Mjolnir and the Bay of Valour that bordered the Sea of Strength. “Campbell…” ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- In the dark alleys of Ortin Port a shadow was moving. It was moving quickly, and with intention, cuttings each corner without showing any sign of hesitation. It also avoided any light from the light posts that were placed here and there and, oddly enough, seemed to never meet any of the night watch patrolling the streets. It only stopped once and that was when it had met its destination. It stopped in front of a huge warehouse which looked quite abandoned. Then it simple pushed the door open, and as it went in the shadow disappeared as it was absorbed by the darkness of the warehouse. Then it went out a few moments before another shadow followed suit. This one was larger, and therefore it tried to avoid being noticed even more by bending down. It opened the door, went inside and shut the door close behind it. Beside a lamp post around thirty meters away from the warehouse a third figure stood and stroke his fingers over his check. “Interesting,” Master Adam muttered to himself. Then he moved slowly towards the warehouse. Inside the darkness of the warehouse it was entirely silent, except for a small sign of the sound of breathing. Then the light went on, revealing two men staring at each others. “You?” one of them said, “What are you doing here? I thought I was the only one supposed to go.” “Not everyone trusts you Rayrn. I’m one of them. I’m not going to risk you messing this up.” “You suck at lying Grobtak,” Rayrn responded with a grin on his face, “it’s pretty clear that you’re only seeking to improved your own position.” Grobtak smiled back, “Our organizations position you mean. I still believe you could mess this up. I believe Baranor would have liked to go too just in case, but that he did not dare too.” Rayrn looked angry at Grobtak, and opened his mouth to answer but was quickly interrupted by a voice from above. “How embarrassing,” the voice said mockingly, “Important staff meeting just a critical meeting which could decide the survival of our guilds if not for this whole realm. And that right before the eyes of a representative from a rival organizations.” “Cut out that nonsense Elegost and get down her at once.” Grobtak’s smile had quickly disappeared. Elegost balanced elegantly around on a beam while resting his arms on his back. Then he neatly jumped down on the floor. “So, what is it that really makes the Dark Council so desperate as to risk their skin in Ortin Port again.” Elegost asked. “We could ask the same thing about you, ” Grobtak said with an angry voice. “You know why I am here Grobtak,” Elegost responded “I’m here mostly out of curiosity and that I have nothing to risk. But you can’t say the same thing, you have far too many enemies too risk coming back here just because of curiosity. That only means you must have gotten more information from Adam than we did.” “They got more information from me because more was needed too get them here Elegost”, Adam said and stepped forth from behind a corner. “So we we’re not the only ones,” Rayrn said, his voice furious. “Who more are coming here then?” “Sven should be here soon, but he already knows a lot about this matter. So let’s not hesitate anymore and get to business immediately.” Adam moved forward to the three men, and picked up a small case from a pocket in his vest. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 5 days later: Hewer ran through the crowd, crying like madman “GET OUT OF THE WAY!” He ran right through the Vast Market, knocking over an old woman carrying a basket of apples and he only managed to shout out “Sorry!” as he hurried down the street. He just made down to the Southern Gate in time. Around twenty workers were hard at work pulling and pushing the great winches that controlled the Southern Gate… made purely out of iron and ore from the Mountains of Glory. Slowly the gates were opening outwards. Right in front of the gates on the inside stood Captain Locky together with Sir Apollo, High Marshal Andy, Sims, Pezza and Sir Alexander. Hewer ran towards them. He tried to behave a little bit angry and irritated as he spoke to Locky: “Once again you walked to the gates without me.” “Oh,” said Locky with a sarcastic smile on his lips, “I totally forgot about that, sorry, my bad.” “You did it on purpose right?” muttered Hewer. “Of course,” Locky was about to laugh hysterically, “what did you think?” “If I am to protect you I need to know where you are. Is not that logic?” “Not to my ears,” answered Locky. Hewer gave out a sigh. In from the gates came a small group of black-cloaked, stubborn warriors. Around thirty and only four of them on horses. One of the horsemen, however, was not dressed black like the rest. “Warriors of Mjolnir,” muttered Sims to himself. When they all were through the Great Gate Sir Apollo gave the the sign to Sergeant Fords to close the Gates again. Locky raised his arm to welcome the Commander of Mjolnir. Ariakas, the one who were not dressed in black, stepped down from his horse and shook hands with the Captain of the City Defences. “When is the Council meeting?” Ariakas asked when he turned to Alexander. “In a few hours,” answered the herald of the Lord of the White Realm. Locky smiled and said, “Hewer! Why can’t you take Warriors of Mjolnir to a sleeping lodge or one of our more comfortable barrack so they can get some rest? Also, make sure someone else take their horses to a stable.” Hewer looked shocked, “But Captain… I have to…” “That’s an order.” Locky smiled even more. “But…” “Blah blah blah… can’t hear you.” Locky walked away, followed by Apollo. Pezza laughed too, while Sims was just shaking his head. They both walked away. Hewer sighed and asked the warriors to follow him. Ariakas was about to mount his own horse again when High Marshal Andy said to him: “Ariakas? I think I really need to talk with you. We could be having some problems at the council today or maybe later through the next days. Serious problems.” “What do you mean” asked Ariakas worried. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ At the same time, far to the north, beyond the borders of the White Realm, the Beastlord Razhk had an important meeting with his allies in his stone fortress. At the meeting were a lot of different races and creatures. Among them were various beasts, as well as some huge half-trolls, mischievous hags and brutish ogres, but only three of them were men. These men were really important in the beastlord’s plans. “They have to be taken care of”, gnarled the beastlord. “Both the keys and their heads must be delivered to me. As well as the staff. “The staff master?” asked one of the humans, a tall one with bright eyes and long, light hair. “Fool! I have already told your fellows that”, snared the beastlord. “The Staff of Sanity! I bet you have heard of that!” “Of course my lord”, the tall human was shivering, “but how on earth are we supposed to…” The beastlord cut him off, “You know how, there is only one way”. “But… We can’t risk”. “I DON’T CARE! DO IT!” roared the beastlord. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- In the great Council Room in the White Tower, the leaders, generals, lords and most of the knights were together. Together they formed the White Council. They now sat around the Round Table of Valour. At one end of the Round Table sat the great Lord Sunnycool himself, the creator of both the White Council and the White Realm. On his right side sat Branalbinn, leader of the Border Forces to the North. Beside him again sat his lady Louise, Princess of Punk, and Babygirl, the second Lady of the Court. To the right of her sat her good friend Sims, the master of music and also relative to Sebastian, the Emperor of the East. And beside him sat the king of art and painting himself, Pezza. Beside Pezza sat Ironfist and Dylan, the banned but returned ones. And beside Dylan sat Lord Videous, Lord of the Castle of Cruelty and former member of the Warriors of Mjolnir. Beside him sat Eomer, a warrior of Mjolnir who had never been defeated in melee combat his whole life. To the right of Eomer sat Hewer, always one hundred percent awake. To the right of Hewer sat Locky, the High Captain of the White City, always with a smile on his face. Beside Locky sat the wise Sir Apollo, in deep conversation with Ariakas, Commander of the Mjolnir and the High Marshal Andy, another member of the Warriors of Mjolnir. To the right of Andy sat Re-maxi, Master of the Web, and to the right of him again sat Almirith, with his eyes closed like in deep meditation. And to the right of Almirith sat Alexander, the herald of Lord Sunnycool. And to the right of Alexander again sat Lord Sunnycool. This was the White Council. There was four empty chairs. These belonged to Fubarbundy, HuggyFrog, Hound and Overlord Ubiquitous. The Overlord has told everyone that he would be late and Fubarbundy and HuggyFrog were still on their way home, according to what Almirith had told everyone else. No one knew for sure why Hound was not at the council, but most believed that he was busy with some work on his own. The whole meeting was really only a formality. Plans were made for celebrations and awards to be given out, and the report about Rabble really leaving the White Realm was confirmed. Almirith brought forward a report about the expedition lead by Fubarbundy and HuggyFrog, telling everyone that peace have been made with the lizard-people living in the Jungles of Mu. Still, even if it was a lot of happiness some members of the council looked a little bit at unease. Except when he brought forward his report Almirith was quiet, he did not take part in the happiness the same way other people did. Andy changed worried looks with Ariakas. Finally Ariakas rose from his chair, with a serious look in his face. He had only opened his mouth when the door suddenly crashed open. Every council member turned in unison. Hewer had already drawn his sword and jumped up from the chair. The swords of most of the other council members were halfway out of the scabbards. Through the door stumbled Fubarbundy and an exhausted Overlord Ubiquitous. The eyes of the Overlord searched through the shocked faces of the council members to find the face of the Lord of the Realms. He staggered uneasy all the way around the table, to finally fall at his knees in front of Lord Sunnycool, whispering “They are going to take the staff. You must stop them” before fainting and falling over. Most of the council members clearly did not understood what was going on according to their faces. Lord Sunnycool bent down to help the Overlord. Suddenly, he stopped in the middle of the action, blinking, and then he realised what the Overlord just had said. He turn around with the speed of lightning itself, and ran out of the doors, past the council. He was closely followed by Branalbinn, Lord Videous and Ariakas. Locky made a sign to Apollo to follow him, and they and Hewer ran out of the opposite door in the room. The rest of the council members stood motionless behind. Alexander and Sims bent down to check on the Overlord. “Could someone please tell me what is going on?” asked Ironfist with a confused voice. “Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s not good stuff”, said Pezza worried. “Trust me”, Fubarbundy said,”this is not good stuff”. His face was ghost-white. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- As Lord Sunnycool, Lord Videous, Branalbinn and Ariakas ran down the stairs leading down to the dungeon of the White Tower wild thought were happening in their mind. They all knew the story behind the Staff of Sanity, and no matter whether Overlord Ubiquitous’s words had been referring to the accursed item or not they would not take the risk of ignoring it. The risk of danger were far to big. “Someone should order the closing of the city gates”, Branalbinn told Lord Sunnycool while they sprinted down the last stairs. “I’m sure Locky is already handling that” Lord Sunnycool answered him. Finally they reached the bottom of the stairs and the beginning of the dungeons. And there Lord Sunnycool let out a cry to see a dozen warriors of the White City lying in heaps on the dungeon floor, killed in gruesome ways. “So it’s true then at least”, muttered Lord Videous. Suddenly they heard the sound of screaming further down in the dungeon. The four men drew their swords and ran down in the dungeon. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Locky ran through the gates of the White Tower. “Sir Apollo, you have to ride down to the River-gate and stop all traffic of ships there. Close the gate itself and make sure that no man has his feet on deck. Send out scout to check the closes area and bring back any people of any kind that is close to the city.” Sir Apollo did not ask any questions, though he raised his eye-brow, and he turned around and ran towards the stable. “Hewer. For this time only, you have to leave me. You have to get to the south-gate and close them immediately. No one must pass. And get people off the walls to. Arrest people that makes protests.” “Alright then, but only this time. And make sure you don’t get yourself into any problem without me by your side”. Then Hewer turned around, put his sword in his scabbard and ran towards the main street leading south through the city. “I don’t know if I can do that”, Locky muttered to himself before turning towards the stable, taking the nearest horse and rode towards the north-gate. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- As Branalbinn, Lord Sunnycool, Ariakas and Lord Videous all ran down to the Hidden Chamber of Rakton they did all think the same thought. They all knew, and remembered the great evil that has threatened the White Realms five years back. They knew they had never truly defeated that great evil, only banished it from the White Realm. But still the great Beastlord Razhk, the offspring of the great Beastlord killed by Ariakas before the gates of the White City itself, threatened the White Realm in numerous ways. They knew what the reast of the council except a few did not, that the magical powers that upheld the glory of the White Realm could be broken and that a catastrophe would erupt if it did. This was what had happened when General Kais the Staff of Sanity in the first years of the White Realm. And the wounds of those troubles back then still scared the White Realm to this day, even though few of the members of the council had been there that year. Branalbinn, Lord Sunnycool, Ariakas and Lord Videous knew that something like that could not be allowed to happen again. As they proceeded further and further down the ancient dungeons they suddenly heard a scream, a scream of terror and great pain. And as they finally entered the huge chamber, containing the tomb of Rakton the Great, they finally saw what awaited them. Lifeless, on the stone floor laid the body of HuggyFrog. And the tomb of Rakton was broken up and empty. “The Staff has been taken”, Lord Videous whispered. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Branalbinn felt completely and utterly broken when he saw the body of HuggyFrog. He did now know of a person in the White Realm apart from Louise and Lord Sunnycool he knew better or cared more about. He could not believe what his eyes actually saw now. As he ran forward, uncaring for Lord Sunnycool’s cry of “Wait”, a huge, dark creature dropped down from the ceiling in front of him and landed elegantly on the stone floor. Branalbinn was struck with awe how the creature looked. It was a true monster. It was a very muscular humanoid with dark skin. It lumbered forward like a troll, and had the strong arms of an ogre while the hands had large, wickedly sharp claws. It rose to full height, looked down at the High Councillor and made a powerful, yet still somehow greeting, roar. Branalbinn acted on instincts. He slashed upwards with his sword towards the looming behemoth. But somehow, despite its great lumbering body, it stepped to the right in an eye blink, knocked Branalbinn in the back and jumped through the air towards the Ariakas, Lord Videous and Lord Sunnycool in the doorway. The beast was fast, faster than any normal human. And before Ariakas, Lord Videous and Lord Sunnycool even had got time to brace themselves it crashed into them. Ariakas and Lord Videous was tossed aside, while the beast kicked Lord Sunnycool backwards and knocked him down with a blow to head. Lord Videous got back up, drew his sword and cut at the beast’s back. The beast turned, ducked under the blow and thundered into Lord Videous who fell on the ground, his sword sliding into the shadows. The fangs of the beast, dripping with spit, were only inches from his face, but with one hand he grabbed the throat of the beast and managed to hold it away while his other hand frantically searched for his dagger. Then the beast rolled to the right, escaping the sharp edge of the blade of the Commander of Mjolnir. As Ariakas carried on forwards, trying to make his opponent back up towards the wall, the beast struck forwards with his hand and caught the sword between it’s long claws and easily wrenched it from the hand of Ariakas and tossed it aside. It then quickly slashed its other hand across the Loremaster face. Ariakas fell on the ground, blood running from his face. At the same time the dagger belonging to Lord Videous sank deep into the chest of the beast. The beast roared again, and then rushed towards the Lord Videous again who made himself ready to defend himself with nothing but his bare hands. The beast crashed into him, picked him up with its muscular arms, and tossed him backwards. Lord Videous’ body hit the wall, and then collapsed on the stone floor. Then the beast turned around, and walked towards Lord Sunnycool. It placed his foot upon his chest and drove his arm backwards, ready for the kill. “So this is how it ends”, Lord Sunnycool thought as he went unconscious, “by the tomb of the one who preceded me.” Then suddenly the creature halted in his move, looked towards the tomb and then it was almost like it whimpered in fear of something. Then a dark figure stepped out from the dark shadows of the chamber. It raised a hand and suddenly a magical portal appeared in front of the ruined tomb. It pointed towards the portal, and the huge behemoth that had defeated four of the greatest warriors of the White Realm in a few seconds obeyed and went through it. Then the dark figure, looked towards the lords of the White Realm that slowly started too conscious. “You don’t defeat me a second time”, invisible lips spoke. Then the dark figure walked through the portal which closed. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- When Locky arrived at the northern gate he quickly ordered the sergeant there to close the Gates and clear the street of people. The Gates had only just started to close, when the earth suddenly started to tremble. A huge crack appeared in the ground, and from that crack appeared a huge creature. It was a massive crab-like monster with four large claws and six segmented legs. It’s brown and black shell was covered in glittering runes. It was almost 20 feet in diameter and around 15 feet tall. The soldiers around it raised their spears, but as the behemoth lumbered forward they staggered and stumbled backwards in fear and terror. Nearly every soldier of the White City felt themselves doomed there and then. Until captain Locky came to their rescues and his strong voice boomed out: “Stand fast Soldiers of the White City. Hold your ground.” And just as the huge crab-monster was closing in to slaughter the pathetic human defender, the guard of the White City around it lifted their spears and pikes, moved forward and stabbed. Most of the weapons broke off when they hit the hard shell of monster, but a few of the weapons hit the vulnerable areas directly under the body and around the six legs. Some of the weapons even got stuck there so the soldiers could work together and turn the spear-tip around in the wound. The monster screamed in pain and lumbered forward. It swung it’s four claws around in great arcs. Most of the men in front of it did not get out of the way and was tossed away a dozen feet or so. It caught young recruits between its claws and cut them up like paper. Aging veterans were crushed like flies. The guard wavered and staggered. But then Locky was among them. With his sword raised and his horn to his mouth, blowing a sound of hope and courage, he ran directly under the huge body of the beast and cut at one of its legs. He caused a grievous wound, and black blood erupted. The monster screamed and tried to reach Locky with one of its dangerous claws. Locky hit the leg again, cutting right through it and just managed to jump away from the gargantuan scissor of a claw coming his way. At the same time a squad of Crossbowmen of the Realm had came from the barracks, moved into position and started to fire at the monster. But the hard shell cheated them for anything critical, and to hit vulnerable areas was almost impossible. The beast, angry from the wounds it had suffered, moved towards the gates. Ignoring the desperate soldiers making panicking hit-and-run attacks at it, it raised its claws upwards and grabbed the huge hinges holding the gates. Then it pinched. At first nothing happened, but slowly the massive, powerful claws began to rip through the strong, iron hinges. “Get a ballista down here at once. Or more than one,” Locky cried out. Then, suddenly with a huge clang, both the upper hinges and the lower hinges cracked at the same time. For a short while nothing happened, as the defenders of the White City just realised what had happened. Then the monster pushed forward, and right part of the Northern Gate of the White City fell down. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Hewer was standing at the southern gate looking out from the White City. A tall knight of the White City walked up to him and saluted. “Everything is in order Sir”. “Well done Edgar”, Hewer answered him, “send a few soldiers out to calm down those ambassadors from the Eastern Empire that got so scared by all this sudden activity”. “Of course Sir”, Edgar saluted again, turned on his heel and walked away. Hewer hated this. He hated giving orders to people. Especially to Edgar since they had been in the same company under Sir Apollo before. Then Hewer had been given the “honour” of guarding the High Captain of the White City. It did not really put him above anyone in the White City, but that was just formally. Most captains and other officers of the White City put honour before anything else, and to them Hewer’s position was a very honourable one. So therefore Edgar had put aside all their former relationship and behaved to Hewer like he would have behaved to Lord Sunnycool himself. Hewer cursed under his breath. He did not care as much about honour as he once did. Times have changed, he thought. So had people. He turned around and looked at the city, the inner walls and the White Tower. He looked towards the northern gate and wondered what Locky had been so worried about. Nothing had happened at all. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- The huge gate crashed to the ground, and the huge crab turned its attention towards the irritating defenders shooting at it. It rumbled towards the crossbowmen who quickly broke formation and spread out. In the meanwhile, some men had brought up two ballistas which they placed in the main street. The huge crab, noticing this new prey, charged towards them. Locky realised that they had to give the crew of the ballista time. So he picked up a huge pike which had broken at the middle and run directly towards the huge crab. The monster halted in confusion, and then it attacked. Locky skipped first to the right, then to the left, avoiding the huge claws of the giant crab. He then stopped moving and struck towards the eyes of the monster. He missed, the tip of the pike harmlessly hitting the hard, compact shell of the giant crab. Then the huge claw hit him with the force of a running horse. Locky got tossed into the air and crashed through the window of the barracks on the other site of the street. Then the huge bolt of the ballista struck the shell of the crab. It crushed though the compact defence of the monster easily as a hot knife through butter. The crab staggered forward towards the ballista, and then it tumbled forward and crashed to the ground. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- “What do you think?” asked Alexander. He and Almirith sat on one side of the bed where they had laid Ubiquitous in a room in the White Tower. Fubarbundy and Pezza stood at the door. “He will pull through,” answered Almirith, “he just need some rest.” “Should we maybe not try and wake him up so he could answer our questions”, Fubarbundy said. “Not in his current state,” answered Almirith again, not turning away from the Overlord, “He would be able to, but it would not be good for him.” “Not good for him? Clearly something bad is going on, and if he could answer our questions about what it is that is going on then it would be worth it”, Alexander said. He sounded irritated. “He will not answer any questions now. Get out if you can’t keep quiet. He needs to rest,” Almirith said. Then he continued, “If you want somebody to answer your questions, why can’t you ask Fubarbundy. Clearly he must know more about this.” Alexander rose, turned around and then walked out of the room. Fubarbundy hesitated for a moment then he followed. Pezza walked to the bedside and looked at the Overlord. “The Staff?” he asked, both himself and Almirith “What did he mean with the Staff”. Almirith did not answer. He could not. ---------------------------------------------------------- Alexander and Fubarbundy walked side by side through the halls of the White Tower. The walls were decorated with huge paintings of the heroes of the White Council and the White Realm, many of them painted by Pezza. On the floor were beautiful carpets from the Land of Weissland to the south-east. Slender statues from old days stood here and there. Fubarbundy felt from time to time hugely out of place when he was in the White Tower. He looked at Alexander, dressed in colourful cloths and wearing decorations on his chest. Fubarbundy never used it. He did not care for it. He wondered why. “So Fubarbundy,” Alexander began, “What do you really know about this”. “I’m not sure. Almirith left our company when we entered the borders of the White Realm after travelling through the White Realm. He said he needed to pay a visit to his friend Lord Rudder before he proceeded to the White City. So me and HuggyFrog continued our journey and reached the House of the Overlord by nightfall, but when we got there we only met Calaros, Commander of the Western Border Forces. He told us that the Overlord had left his own home at some point in the day and that none of his servants had actually noticed. We figured he had gone out to the Forest of Truth to be alone for a while, as he often does. So we travelled on. Then we reached the Pointy Ridges…” “And…” “We found them. We found the Overlord and Campbell.” “Campbell?” “Yes.” “But he is dead”, Alexander said in confusion “It did not seem like it back then. But the Overlord was close to death. He seemed mad or something, mad and desperate. We did not know what to say, but Campbell told us that the Overlord needed to get to Lord Sunnycool immediately. It seemed like if he did not hell would break loose or something. Then he got on his horse and rode southwards before we managed to ask any questions. Then we had no choice other than to get Overlord Ubiquitous on to the White City since we really did not have any clue to what was going on.” “Nothing else that Campbell said.” “No”, Fubarbundy said, “or wait, there was something else.” “Yes?” “He asked us to forgive him.” Silence took command in the hallway. Suddenly they heard a sound, and as they turned they saw a large bookshelf moving away from the wall. Forth from the bookshelf stepped Lord Sunnycool and Lord Videous, bouth supporting each others. Sunnycool bled from his mouth, and he seemed sick in his face like as if he had had his soul broken. Lord Videous had his eyes closed, and his face seemed to be distorted by pain. Fubarbundy and Alexander both rushed forward to help their friends. As Fubarbundy took the body of Lord Videous from the shoulder of Lord Sunnycool, a groan of discomfort came from the mouth of Lord Videous. As Fubarbundy helped Videous too a comfortable sofa, he felt the body of Videous shuddering of pain. A lot of bones had been somehow broken in his body. Lord Sunnycool managed to stand on his feet by himself. Then another figure appeared out behind the bookshelf, Branalbinn carrying the lifeless body of HuggyFrog. The faces of Fubarbundy and Alexander was marked of horror, confusion and disbelief. “What has happened,” Alexander managed to speak at last. Lord Sunnycool saw into the eyes of his herald and he understood that he could not give up against the feelings that seeked to tear him up from inside. He needed to do his duty. “Fubarbundy, carry Videous too Almirith or if you can’t do it without causing him too much pain make Almirith come to him instead. Branalbinn, I don’t know if there is anything more we can do about HuggyFrog but just… do something. I am sorry my old friend.” Branalbinn managed to nod back. Then Lord Sunnycool proceeded. “Alexander, will you follow me. No matter what else happens, the White Council need to speak about this immediately. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- As Almirith was about to walk towards one of the balconies overlooking the White City a door suddenly went up in front of him in the hallway. Out from the door Ariakas stumbled out, blood in his hands and face with a deep gash in his face. For a moment they just stood there and looked at each others then, Almirith tried to put up a smile as he said “You look terrible.” ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- “So what it is that is really going on here”, Dylan demanded. “It definitely is something critical the way all of you acted.” “All your questions will be answered”, Lord Sunnycool responded raising his arms to calm the people in the room down. As soon as he and Alexander had returned around a dozens questions had arrived immediately from nearly every single Council-member in the room. Sunnycool noticed that Locky and Apollo was not in the room. Which was both good and bad, depending on how you looked at it? “How is Overlord Ubiquitous at the moment,” he asked Fubarbundy, as he and Pezza came through the door. “He is unconscious. Almirith is taking care of him,” the captain of the Wolf Company answered. Lord Sunnycool looked at the White Council arrayed around the Table of Valour. They were confused and some were also even scared. What he had to tell them would not improve their status, but it was important and necessary. “When the Overlord first arrived here you all heard him mention a staff,” Lord Sunnycool began. “This staff is a both dangerous and powerful artefact which bears the name the Staff of Sanity. It is the single most dangerous magical object that the world has ever seen, capable of creating catastrophes that could kill thousands and performing disasters that ruin and destroy cities if not realms.” “Why did you not destroy such an item, and why have we not heard about this before?” Re-maxi cried out. “There are two reasons for your first question. The first one is that we could not destroy it. The second was that we did not dare to, cause we we’re told that it would ruin the very foundations of the White Realm, and that the magical energies which upheld our land would break. But believe me, some of us tried to destroy but as I said we we’re not capable of doing such a task. It would not be destroyed by the elementals, not crushed, not break, not burn, not be consumed by acid nor be destroyed my magical means.” “Still, who know about this Staff,” Ironfist asked. “Myself, Lady Caitlin, Lady Louise, Ariakas, Lord Videous, Branalbinn, HuggyFrog, Overlord Ubiquitous, High Captain Locky as well as Archmage Lathaon of Weissland. No one else,” answered Lord Sunnycool. “But where did such an artefact come from? Who created it and on what purpose?” asked Pezza beside Lord Sunnycool. “Its history goes back too when the White Realm was founded and created. After the First Great War against the Beasts, Lord Rakton was dead and the realm that existed before our realm was devastated. A new order needed to be created, a new leadership to rise and it could not be governed the way it had been governed before. No one decided to step up and take command, so I did. I founded the White Realm and the White City. I also needed advisors and knights who could help me create and control this realm. Some of them are still with me to this day. Some died for a noble cause for the realm and for me. Some turned tr****rs. One of these was a man who called himself Angel.” Then Lord Sunnycool told the White Council a tale from the first years of the White Realm. He told about how Branalbinn had brought many knights too the White City, and how he had formed the military organisation called Branalbinn’s Guard. He told them how many brave men had joined Branalbinn’s Guard, amongst them Angel and Campbell. He spoke of how Kais, a commander serving under Lord Rakton of the Realm of Purity, had arrived at the White Realm bringing with him a mysterious, old staff that he said was an item from the First War against the Beasts. He had shown Lord Sunnycool that with this Staff, named for unknown reasons the Staff of Sanity, they could create great wonders of the world. The staff could even create life, but some had argued against using the Staff. Overlord Ubiquitous and Louise had told Lord Sunnycool that the Staff was a tool of evil. Not like the evil of the beasts of the north, but an unknown evil of the south. But Lord Sunnycool did not believe this, until the Staff showed its powers as a weapon. An unknown man, some say elf, came to the White City, and offered a lot of gold and silver to buy the Staff. But no one, neither those who wanted to use it nor those who would not, would sell it to him. The man had gotten angry, and revealed great sorcerous powers, which no one saw coming. He took the Staff with the help of his powers, while he killed two knights of the White City. Then he had started bringing havoc around him. Lord Sunnycool told the White Council how he himself had been close to death that day, how the Staff had wrought wounds that never could heal. Then the Staff had started to live on its own. It had seemed to consume the man who used it, sucking the life out of him. And still it slaughted men, and smashed apart stone walls. First when the unknown sorcerer had vanished, the Staff of Sanity lay still on the ground. No one had dared too pick it up at first. But there was no doubt about what was needed to be done. The Staff was dangerous; everyone had understood then when havoc and slaughter had broken loose. It needed to be destroyed. Lord Sunnycool carried on with his tale, telling how he had given Branalbinn’s Guard a mission too take the Staff of Sanity with them into the Realm of UROD and somehow find a way to destroy it. Branalbinn’s Guard travelled deep into the unknown realm and was gone from the White Realm for half a year. Then the survivors, four of them, returned with the Staff. They said the staff could not be destroyed by anything in the Realm of UROD. Ubiquitous told Lord Sunnycool that, somehow, the Staff was bound too the White Realm. Lord Sunnycool had asked Branalbinn how all the members of Branalbinn’s Guard had died. Branalbinn had told Lord Sunnycool that they were murdered by one of their own. Lord Sunnycool shook his head. “We were blind back then. The tr****r could have been anyone, and still it could have been no one except him. We just did not see it.” Lord Sunnycool continued, telling how the following night the tr****r had crept throught the halls of the White Tower. He entered the Council Hall, where the Staff lay. He had surpassed the magical defences that Louise and Ubiquitous had wrought upon the Chamber. Then he took the Staff, and as the tr****r was about to leave the room he was suddenly surprised by Ariakas and Kais entering the room. According too Ariakas, the man with the Staff, had used it to kill Kais, hero of the Realm of Purity and escape from Ariakas. Then the man ran out into the night, but he could not escape. He was followed and ran to the top of the White Tower. Then he was caught up with by Branalbinn. Lord Sunnycool carried on… with the tale about what happened there on the tower… Many years back… ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thunder rolled against the sky as Angel lifted the Staff into the Sky. “Can’t you see it Branalbinn, this Staff is the most powerful item the world has seen. To destroy it is a grievous mistake.” “Have you not seen what it had wrought upon the world,” Branalbinn cried back as lighting flashed around and rain whipped around them. “You are a fool who even think this way. The staff is evil, and so are your actions.” “You are the fools. You and all the others. Evil does not exist in the way you think. This is a tool of power, not of the “evil” that you talk about. You are ignorant. You think the only enemy in the world is the mischievous, pathetic beasts and mutant-creatures of the north? Then you are pathetic, because there exists a greater power in the world. And we should serve it. We are not their direct enemies, others are. But if we destroy this staff, or keep it to ourselves we will become their enemies. You can count on that.” “Listen to yourself, you’re just rabbling about. You’re mad,” Branalbinn almost fell over because of the strong wind. Angel just laughed in respons. “Give me the Staff Angel.” “No.” Branalbinn placed his hand on his sword. “You may try,” Angel said with a quiet voice that somehow was possible to hear and pointed the Staff towards Branalbinn. “I will.” “Don’t do it Branalbinn. You know you will not make it. I swear I will use the Staff. I’m not afraid. I killed them all. I killed Harkan, Gregor and Maargar. I killed Campbell”. It seemed like Branalbinn shook where he stood, and he slowly took his right arm of the sword hilt. Then suddenly he sprinted forward and grabbed the staff with his left arm. As he tried to wrench it from the grip of Angel, Angel screamed with fury and swung around. Suddenly Branalbinn found himself falling over the edge of the tower, only saved by his safe grip on the staff which Angel still let on to. “Let go you bastard. You shall pay.” Angel screamed with murder in his eyes. Then it was like the staff shone with unnatural light, and a white fire erupted from the staff and splashed over the face of Angel. He screamed with such anger and pain Branalbinn felt a need to let go of the staff and just cover his ears. But still Angel held on to the staff. The fire burned away his hear, his skin, his eyes, his ears, his gum and tongue until he was a charred, black stump. But still he held on. And he did more than that. Somehow his enormous pain and anguish gave him immense strength. He pulled Branalbinn up and tossed both him and the staff backwards. Branalbinn flew through the air and hit the other side of the tower while the staff smashed on the stone floor between him and Angel. Branalbinn looked at Angel and he was disgusted with what he saw. How could the man still be alive? Angel walked forward towards the staff slowly, like he was certain of victory. Then Branalbinn pulled his dagger and threw himself forward clashing with Angel, and falling on top of him on the stone floor. He smashed Angels head into the rock, and stabbed him with the dagger. Angel bled from a horde of deep wounds, and his head was falling apart but still he went on. Angel used his feet to kick Branalbinn of him. Then as Branalbinn got to his feet again, Angel kicked him with straight hit from his right hand. Branalbinn was knocked right of his feet and laid there. Angel looked at him, or at least it seemed like he looked at him. Since he was missing his whole face now it was not easy to tell. Branalbinn slowly got up, and backed towards the edge of the tower. “What were you talking about back then,” he said, “what kind of evil is this?” He was not expecting an answer, but he still got one. Angel spoke, but it seemed like the voice came from both his head and from everywhere else at the same time. “This is a power older than the White Realm. It is older than the Realm of Purity. It is even older than this land. But it has slept. It has slept for over a thousand years now. But with this staff we can awaken it.” “Why would you want to do something like that,” Branalbinn cried in confusion. “Because I want to serve it. I don’t want to serve Lord Sunnycool,” Angel said and made a move like he spat on the ground, “and I did not want to serve Lord Rakton. I will not serve the lord of the Beasts in the North, neither will I serve the Lord of Weissland. I want to serve the most powerful lord that has ever excisted.” “Why? So he could defend you from harm?” Angel screamed and launched himself towards Branalbinn. Branalbinn did not move until Angel was almost at him, then he suddenly bent over and rose up again in a move that pushed Angel screaming over him and over the edge of the tower. Angel screamed with anger, fear and fury, but as he fell down towards the ground hundreds of meters below he somehow seemed to laugh. Branalbinn turned around and looked at the staff which lay on the ground. He swallowed. Timeline of events CWR – The years following the Creation of the White Realm. 0 After the First War against the Beasts the ruined human provinces that compromised the Realm of Purity has just started too grow again. Lord Sunnycool, who was a knight under Lord Rakton, forms a new nation which is named The White Realm. Branalbinn, who also was a knight under Lord Rakton helps him with this. The people of the White Realm start building the White City in the same area as Lord Rakton was buried. 1 An armed man arrives at the site were the White City is being built. He calls himself Locky and offers his service as a tactican and warriors too Lord Sunnycool. 2 Branalbinn rides northwest together with two of his friends and followers, HuggyFrog and the wise Overlord Ubiquitous too the Gate of UROD which is one of the last remaining structures after the First War against the Beasts. Branalbinn realises that the Gates of UROD still needs to be guarded considering the danger that lies beyond and therefore he forms the Branalbinn’s Guard. 3 The people of the White Realm start building the White Tower in the White City. 4 A man named Dylan arrives at the gates of the White Realm. Dylan, Locky and a third man called Angel becomes the first Knights of the White Realm. 5 Travelling alone in the north-western part of the White Realm Branalbinn meets a man sitting on a rock looking into the sky. Branalbinn sits down with him and asks him what he’s doing. The man says he is counting leaves on the trees, and proceeds to say that there is no wonder that no one does something like that considering how boring it is. He then introduce himself as Ariakas. When Branalbinn asks him where he comes from he receives the answer “North”. Ariakas comes with Branalbinn to the court of the White Realm, and quickly becomes friends with Lord Sunnycool. Later this year another warrior arrives in the White Realm. He calls himself Lord Videous. 6 Kais, a veteran and survivour from the First Great War against the Beasts, arrives at the White City and offers his services as an advisor and tactican to Lord Sunnycool. He also brings with him an old staff which he claims too be an artefact from the old days before the Realm of Purity. 7 The White Tower is finished. 8 The Quest to destroy the Staff of Sanity. Kais and Campbell are seemingly killed by Angel, who is killed by Branalbinn at the top of the White Tower. 9 The Warriors of Mjolnir is formed by Ariakas as a partly independent military group loyal to the White Realm. Lord Videous joins the Warriors of Mjolnir. 10 11 12 13 The Mines of Glory are established by a guild called the Glorians led by the old man Bulafamous. 14 Crystal-ore is discovered in the Mountains of Glory by the Glorians. 15 Almirith arrives at the White Realm. With him also comes a good friend, Master Adam. Adam is a traveller by hearth and comes and goes much as he wants to. 16 Bandits-groups is being formed in the eastern part of the White Realm. The villages to the east of the Mountains of Glory becomes victims too many raids and one village, Gullrik, is completely destroyed with only one survivour. 17 Following raids made by bandits on the Mines of Glory themselves, a large fortification is built in the Mountains of Glory. A military group, armed with great axes and bows, called the Axemen of Glory is also formed. The Glorians slowly become more and more isolated from the rest of the White Realm. 18 The Second War against the Beasts. This war is considered minor compared too the other wars that has been fought against the evil creatures from the north. When a large force of beasts suddenly attacked the inhabitants of the Mountains of Glory the rest of the White Realm is too slow to react. Many Glorians fall in battle. Among them are Bulefamous and his eldest son. A force consisting of Knights and Warriors of the White City led by Locky and Almirith rides too the Mountains of Glory and destroyes the army of beasts. The guild called the Glorians does now no longer exists, though the Gates still stands and the people still live there. Therefore, since the last relative of Bulefamous is too young, Almirith is declared leader of the Mines of Glory. Glossary Akatosh: Knight of the White City, and second in command of the Honour Guard after Apollo. Almirith Damorath: The only true Master of the Force still living in the White Realm. Well learned in the use of herbs and plants as medicines. He often travels outside of the borders of the White Realm, often in the company of Master Adam. Andy: Captain of Mjolnir. Andy has so far never showed fear in the face of any mortal opponent. He is famous for leading the forces of The White Realm to victory in the Battle of the Gnarlog Plains. In battle Andy wields a giant, enchanted two-handed sword with a ivory grip with a golden pommel and guard. He also uses the bow. Apollo Galerick: Captain of the White City, and leader of the Honour Guard. Famous for putting honour and justice before anything else. Beast, beasts: The name given to the creatures of the wild lands in the north and north-east. They looks like a twisted blend of humanoid creatures and animals. The beasts of the north come in many variations, small and large, pathetic and dangerous. Calaros: Captain of the border forces of the west. Dagonet: Warrior of Mjolnir. Right hand man of Andy. He is an excellent horseman and jouster. Edgar: Knight of the White City serving in the Honour Guard led by Apollo. He was a great friend of Hewer before Hewer was “promoted”. Elvis: Innkeeper of the Black Hammer Inn in the White City. He calls himself the “King of Rock” and is thought to be mad or crazy by many people. Eomer: Captain of Mjolnir. Eomer was the only survivor of a small village which got ambushed by a band of bandits. He managed to get away thanks to a mysterious, old man. After the man died five years later Eomer survived on his own. When he travelled to the White Realm Ariakas was the first man he met. They found out that they shared the same enemy, and Eomer joined the newly formed faction called the Warriors of Mjolnir. Eomer is a true masters of stealth, as well as a worthy marksman with the bow. Fords: Sergeant in the Army of the White City. Fubarbundy: Leader of the Wolf Company . Dislikes magic. Hewer: Former member of the Honour Guard. Killed a vicious Akhmantûl singe-handly in the opening days of the Third War against the Beasts, and was given the title “Captain of the Sword” and the honour of guarding the High Captain of the White City, Locky. HuggyFrog: High-ranking member of Branalbinn’s Guard. Huggyfrog is an excellent fencer and horseman, as well as a man of humour. He is famous for making peace with the aggressive lizard-people in the West. Lathaon: Elven lord of Weissland and archmage. Locky: High Captain of the White City. He is a true master tactician. Loter Arthious: The descendant of Bulefamous. He is second-in-command of the Gates of Glory, but since Almirith still likes to travel around instead of settling at the same place Loter is the one who stays in command most of a year. Loter Arthious has learned some secrets about the mystical powers used by Almirith (referred simply to as the “Force”), but he has far from mastered it as much as Almirith. Mork: The beastlord who led the united forces of various beast-creatures during the Third War against the Beasts. He was killed by Ariakas in a duel in front of the Southern Gates of the White City. Paul Damorath Father of Almirith Damorath. Paul was also a Master of the Force before his death, as well as a good friend with Master Adam. Ranorist: Warrior of Mjolnir. Huge, bald and bulky. He uses a combination of a hammer and an axe in battle. Richard Magror: Son of William Magror. After his father died in the Third War against the Beasts he decided to not follow in his fathers footsteps and refused the offer from Ariakas about joining the Warriors of Mjolnir. Instead he stayed in the army of the White City where he quickly rose in ranks. He is now a lieutenant in the Honour Guard led by Apollo. Sebastian: The current Emperor of the East. Sunnycool, Lord: The Lord of the White Realm. Lord Sunnycool is the creator of the White Counsil and founder of the White City. He is the one who killed the first great beastlord whose name shall not be mentioned again together with Branalbinn in the First War against the Beasts. Trebuchet: This is a giant war machine invented by Hound used in the armies of the White Realm. It has so far still not been used in a conflict. Tristan: Warrior of Mjolnir. He is skilled with the use of the curved swords utilized in the Empire of Maga Khan and the Desert Sands, as well as the short bow. Ubiquitous, Overlord: Another high-ranking member of Branalbinn’s Guard. He is giften with the ability to see the future, as well as easily see through people that is lying or hiding information. He lives in the House of the Overlord (often referred to as the Castle of the Truthseeker) in the north-western part of the White Realm. Warriors of Mjolnir: A military order in the White Realm with Ariakas as it’s leader. Not every Warriors of Mjolnir is a warrior, some are also learned men and sages but they are still referred to as Warriors of Mjolnir. The Warriors of Mjolnir use various weapons and fighting techniques, believing that every man should practice and master in what they actually have a marked talent for. William Magror: Former lieutenant of Mjolnir. Killed during the Third War against the Beasts. He was the father of Richard who decided to not follow in his father footsteps.