Mystara and the Path to Immortality
10th Flaurmont, 1000AC, Day 1
Fully equipped for my Journey, I left Ober’s Mimbur.
I had made my axe (which I have named Troll-Cleaver as any good Northman’s weapon should be) at my fathers forge. He was less than impressed with the quality and muttered that I would be better shovelling donkey poo from one place to another. I’m not really sure what he meant by that….My oldest brother Samuel gave me the chainmail armour. He had been making a suit for one of the Sherriff’s deputies, but after a disturbance in the “Flying Falcon” Tavern, wasn’t required. Samuel offered it to me if I’d do his chores for a week which I thought was a bargain. I bought the rest of my gear at the local store with a fair chunk of my pocket money I’d saved up over the years.
So as I said, fully equipped, I set off.
I headed towards Leafkindle in the Seashire as I’d heard that the Eastshire was a bit boring and I was more likely to find interesting people to the west. After a pleasant day walking in the spring sun, I reached the border of the High and Sea Shires as the sun was setting. I decided it was time for a rest. So I’ve found a nice hedge and wrapped myself in my cloak and plan to sleep after finishing the Journal and having a bit to eat.
11th Flaurmont, Day 2
I awoke a little before sunrise with an unholy ache in my back. I don’t know how adventurers do this every night, I suppose their bodies are used to it like mine will be soon (hopefully). I guess I’d slept on a stone or branch. I must get a bedroll before too long… Still, it was good to be on the road with no worries except for where to go next. Leafkindle was only a few hours away, and by the time I arrived at mid-day, my back was as good as new and I was looking forward to seeing the sites. Leafkindle is a tiny, but beautiful village on the edge of a forest. It made a pleasant change from the hustle, bustle, mud and stone of Ober’s Mimbur. I even played dice with a couple of Elves when I stopped for a bite at the “Duskymoot” Tavern. They had the most amazing luck, an Elvish thing I guess…
After a great lamb stew I took to the Deeps Road again and headed south towards Deepmoss. I hitched a ride with a merchant taking his stock to Thantabbar. Paddy Standfast, the merchant, was headed back home after a successful trading trip. We struck a deal where I would guard him and his stuff while I got a free ride. So far it has been a safe and pleasant journey.
12th Flaurmont, Day 3
I am still not used to this sleeping on the ground thing. Although there seemed to be room in the wagon for both Paddy and I, Paddy insisted that the Guards place was outside on the ground in case of trouble. I couldn’t argue with that as Paddy seems to know what he’s on about. We stopped around mid-day at “The Silent Knight” Tavern in Deepmoss for a light lunch of sausages and bread and a birthday ale, before carrying on south towards Thantabbar. It was a little odd to celebrate my birthday without my family, but I guess that’s the life of an Adventurer. Again the day was uneventful and I am beginning to think that I have got the better end of the deal with Paddy. Although the ground still looks hard…
13th Flaurmont, Day 4
We reached Thantabbar towards the end of the day and after saying goodbye to Paddy, I checked into the “Green Griffon Inn”. Having an hour or two of daylight left, I took to the streets to have a look at the sites. Thantabbar is much larger than Ober’s Mimbur but seems to be calmer and without as much hussle and bussle as you would expect. There were are large amount of non-hin about, I guess because ships arrive here from all over Mystara carrying all sorts of folk. Methinks that this is the way that would be best to travel to the Northern Reaches. I visited Fanghold, the base of the Thantabbar military, and Wolfwar Weaponry and Armour which had some of the nicest looking weapons and armour I’d ever seen. They put my father’s and brother’s creations to shame. Unfortunately I did not have enough coin to purchase anything and the burly Wolfwar soon chased me out of his shop. On the way home I passed by Shumbril Tower, but magic and wizards don’t do much for me so I didn’t linger. I had a filling feed of beef stew and roast veges and retired early, ready for the ’morrow on which I hope to find a way North.
14th Flaurmont, Day 5
I cannot tell you what a relief it was to sleep in a bed. As exciting as being an adventurer is, there is nothing like a nice soft feather bed to ease you to sleep. Although I’m not sure that I wasn’t sharing it with a few others as I have been scratching all day. I headed down to the port to see if there was any ships going North. The sight of the port was breath-taking. It was simply huge. There were hundreds of ships (well, that might be an exaggeration but there were a lot) from a lot of places. I wandered the docks looking for the fabled Longships of the Northmen. I found one called the “Silver-Wolf” a fierce looking ship with a wolf carved into the front. Taking a deep breath, I strode up the gang plank looking for the Captain. There were a number of crewmen on deck and they all stopped what they were doing to look at me. I think I made quite a sight with my axe and skilfully made armour. They must have been in the middle of a joke, as I heard one say something in their language and the others all laughed. It must have been really funny, as they all laughed quite hard, one even rolling on the deck. Anyway, this must have alerted the Captain as he approached me from a covered section in the back of the ship. The Captain, whose name was Bardi “The Golden” Gudmundsen, was the largest person I’d ever seen. He stood at least twice my height and I reckon that his shoulders would have been as wide as I was tall. As he grinned at me, I learned why he was called “The Golden”. His mouth was full of gold teeth and to be honest, it was a little unsettling. However, he seemed to like me as he didn’t stop smiling during our conversation and I think I liked him too, although I wish he would stop calling me “Little Warrior”. I asked him about the possibility of passage to the Northern Reaches, I told him I didn’t have a lot of money but was a fearless warrior and could cook. I’m not sure what I said but I think one of my words may mean something different in their language as he burst out laughing. He said “Warrior indeed. What you need is a strong arm and a strong heart. I like your courage Little Warrior. It happens I have a spare oar and if you can pull your weight you are welcome aboard.” Eager to show them I could “pull my weight” I helped them load their ship. The work was hard, but my time at my fathers forge had given me strength and stamina and I think I impressed everyone with my efforts. Bardi told me that we sail first thing in the morning with the tide and if I didn’t want to be left behind, be at the docks before sun-up.
So I’m sitting here in bed barely able to contain my excitement. I doubt I will sleep much. Tomorrow the real adventure begins, I will be sailing to the Northern Reaches!
18th Flaurmont, Day 9
I have never felt so ill in my life. I’ve spent most of the last few days bent over the side of the ship. I had heard some people get sea-sick but I thought it wouldn’t happen to me. It has been getting better and I think I’m over the worst of it. One of the crewmen, Ari “Fish-Hook” Oddsen (called Fish-Hook because of the way his mouth looks as though he’s been caught by a fishing line), my oar-buddy, tells me it will pass and when I get my “sea-legs” I’ll be “right as rain”. I’m not sure what that meant but I think he means I’ll be better soon.
20th Flaurmont, Day 11
Fish-Hook was correct. I have my sea-legs (which I’ve discovered means being used to the sea rocking and rolling) and am feeling great. Although the rowing is very tiring and I fall asleep at night very quickly, so haven’t been writing my Journal. Not that there is a lot to write about. The voyage has been uneventful, although there has been a lot of story-telling by the crew. Stories about Gods, Valkyries, Giants, Trolls, Heroes with magic weapons and the Final Battle, Ragnarok, when the Northmen will stand with Odin to guard Heaven’s Bridge against the Giants and the Queen of Hel. I have taken a liking to the God Thor. I think I would like to learn more about him, his warriorness (not sure that’s a word) and loyalty appeal to me.
21st Flaurmont, Day 12
I am glad my illness has fled or I’d have missed the grandest City of all! Today we stopped at Specularum, the capital of The Grand Duchy of Karameikos. At least four times the size of Thantabbar, I was amazed by it. Bardi gave us shore leave for the day so we could explore. Mere words will not do it justice, instead I would encourage all to venture here and experience it for yourselves. There were thousands upon thousands of people. Everywhere you looked there were people rushing here and there buying and selling everything you’d ever need (and probably things you wouldn’t if I didn’t mistake some of what the women at the docks were saying…). So after an exhausting day in Specularum, I sit back on the “Silver-Wolf” looking at the lights of the City munching on some sort of meat on a stick I bought off a street vendor (he said it was chicken, but I’m not sure that chickens have whiskers…).
27th Flaurmont, Day 18
Today we stopped at the Thyatian city of Kerendas. Apparently famous for its horses, I was more impressed with the very efficient and organised port and the neat and orderly way the soldiers marched around. Most unlike the Sheriffs back home the soldiers had polished armour and crisp and clean cloaks. These Thyatian soldiers seemed proud of their uniforms and who they were.
7th Yarthmont, Day 26
We stopped briefly in Tel Akbir, another Thyatian city. Fish-Hook tells me that the city used to be part of the Ylaruam Empire to the North but after centuries of war the Thyatians now hold onto this city and most of the peninsular it sits on. He tells me the Alasiyans (the people of Ylaruam) built this city and some of their old buildings still remain amongst the buildings of the Thyatians. I’m not one for architecture but I did see a few onion shaped towers poking above some multi-columned temples.
11th Yarthmont, Day 30
I have to admit I was surprised by the sight of the Emirates of Ylaruam. I had been told that it was mostly desert. But along the coast, there were plenty of farms growing fruit and veges and even a couple of cities. Not very desert like at all.
15th Yarthmont, Day 34
At last! The mountains of the Soderfjord Jarldom have come into view. Our journeys end is in sight, just a week or so till we dock at Sudorn in Vestland, Bardi’s home port. To be honest, I think I’ll miss these gruff warrior-sailors. Their honest friendship has been a great help to me on my journey and given me the confidence to be what I want. Of course, I do not know what I want at the moment. I am hoping that Sudorn will have an answer. Fish-Hook tells me it is the only real market town on the whole of the North Coast of Vestfjord Bay so there should be plenty of folk to talk to. There is also talk of Trolls being seen close to some of the lowland steads, something that has not happened for a few hundred years. Maybe there is something a “Little Warrior” can do there…
23rd Yarthmont, Day 42
We docked in Sudorn today. All the crews families were waiting for them waving and cheering. I almost felt they were welcoming me too. After a number of hand-shakes and back slaps I bid my sailing companions farewell, promising them that the next time they hear about me, it will be in a skalds song. Again I must have said something funny as they all laughed. I shall have to look for them if I ever return to Sudorn. I had long since used all of my money so was at a loss for what to do. However, something happened that could have only been a sign from the mighty Thor himself. As I was rounding a corner I was almost bowled over by a couple of men running, but I was luckily able to dodge out of the way. I turned to look at who they were but was then crashed into by a large man in armour (turns out he was quite heavy too, as I got pinned under him). After we had untangled ourselves he stood and said something that sounded like a curse. I must learn the Northman language as it sounds very satisfying to curse in. He turned on me and said (rather testily I thought) “Fool child, now the Loki scum have got away!” I was about to make a comment about not being a child, but as he turned to leave I noticed a silver hammer hanging around his neck. Then I noticed the hammer he was picking up off the ground…A priest of Thor! I couldn’t believe my luck. I suggested that if we were quick, we could catch these evil doers (Loki being associated with thieves, brigands and general never-do-wells). He declined my offer saying that “They would be too far ahead for an armoured man and a child to catch and I have business elsewhere besides. Those Loki worshippers will get their justice sooner or later…” Again I was about to make a comment about being a Hin and not a Human child but he strode away. I tried to catch him, but he moved too fast and obviously couldn’t hear my calls. I tried to find him but soon got myself lost and ended up at the Northern Gate. I decided to leave town and maybe find adventure in the Wilderness. There must be some Trolls that need cleaving. I was starting to get a bit hungry and thinking about shooting some rabbits when I smelt some stew. Following my nose, I happened upon a campsite and the second amazing thing to happen to me today. Sitting by the fire eating a steaming bowl of stew was my Priest of Thor! Stepping into the firelight, I introduced myself as Skrogg Firmfist, fearless Hin Warrior and follower of Thor. The priest must have got a bone in his stew as he spluttered suddenly and started to cough. I asked him if he was alright, but he waved me away and after his coughing subsided said “Well mighty warrior, you’d better sit and share my meal.” So I did. He told me his name was Thorsgrim and he was indeed a priest of Thor. He had travelled from his clan hold in Helega on a journey to Ravenholm near the hills of Trollheim. He is to bring the glory of Thor to the villagers there and in doing so, honour to his Clan. I offered to do first watch, so I am sitting here writing my Journal and thinking that my Adventure has just begun.
24th Yarthmont, Day 43
I awoke the next day to the sound of Thorsgrim packing away the campsite. He threw me a crust of bread and said “Well Little Warrior, if you want to come with me you’d better hurry. I won’t wait.” With that he put on his backpack and started down the road. I could barely believe my ears, he wanted me to come with him! Thor has truly blessed me! I grabbed my stuff and hurriedly packed it all away. Luckily he hadn’t got to far ahead and in a few minutes I caught up to him (although somewhat puffed). It was a pleasant day of travel. The land North and West of Sudorn is mostly forest so there were plenty of birds chirping and things to look at. The plants here a quite different to those back home. Thorsgrim didn’t say much, but when I asked about Thor, he got a gleam in his eye and smiled and didn’t stop talking till we stopped to rest for the night. I quite like this prayer he taught me…
Red-Beard, Fire-Beard, Bringer of Lightning,
Life-giving Storm-Lord are you, lover of feasting,
Father of Freedom, fighter most doughty,
Donar, Defender, dearly we need thee,
Hear us hero, hasten to help us,
Gifts thy great Goats gallop to bring.
I shall go to sleep tonight with dreams of Gods and Glory…
25th Yarthmont, Day 44
We had been travelling uphill for most of the morning, but I was still surprised when the forest thinned out and we found ourselves overlooking a large bay. Thorsgrim explained that this was Nordersfjord, one of the many fjords in the Northern Reaches and that our destination was on the northern shore. With sights like that, I think that I will like being here. After setting up camp tonight, Thorsgrim told me that we would be reaching Ravenholm tomorrow and he is not sure what we will find. He warned me to hold my tongue, as not all Northmen were as friendly as he.
26th Yarthmont, Day 45
After a rather restless night (Thorsgrim’s grim warning made me worry somewhat) we headed down the fjord to Ravenholm. I don’t know what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t what we found. Instead of a bustling, busy little village, the streets were quiet and there was a feeling of unease in the air. We made our way to Jarl Olaf Pin-Leg’s (the Mayor) house to make our introductions. It seems that Thorsgrim was expected as a house had been set aside for him. The Jarl seemed a little unsure of himself, and if I didn’t know any better, seemed to resent the Priest of Thor’s presence. We found out that all is not well in Ravenholm as we could tell by the mood. The rumours I had heard earlier about Trolls seem to be true. Throughout the spring and into summer, Trolls had been raiding Steadings to the North and had even attacked the village. A local hero, Bronic Stonebrough and his elven friend Silanda Feadiel, with the aid of Bronic’s clansdwarfs had fought them off, but not before the Trolls had ruined most of the crops and killed many villagers. There is a hint of desperation in the village as it is feared there will not be enough of the harvest left to see them through the Winter. Thorsgrim said to maintain faith in the Gods and they will provide, but Olaf was less than impressed with that and Thorsgrim stormed out. Talk about tense.
Despite Thorsgrims warning the night before, I suggested that we go fight the trolls and maybe claim some of their treasure. I’m starting to think that maybe it’s me that these Northerners find funny as after the startled look passed from Olaf’s face he laughed out loud. “You’ve never met a Troll have you young one?” he asked. “They are huge, mean and likely to rip your head clean off. I’m sure you and your Dad are brave enough, but trust me, a Troll is not for the likes of you.” It was my turn to be puzzled. It then dawned on me that he thought I was Thorsgrim’s child, so I enlightened them… I told them I am Skrogg Firmfist fearless Hin warrior and follower of Thor, and I vow by Thor’s Hammer to do all in my power to help this village of Ravenholm. I fully expected another round of laughs, but I must have said it right as there was only silence. “Well my little warrior” said Olaf after a time, “We’d better find somewhere for you to live then.” They showed me to a grand Longhouse near the Dwarven compound, which was sitting empty due to the family moving away after most of the men folk had been killed by Trolls. I’m not sure I need such a big house but as Olaf said, it’s just going to fall into disrepair if not looked after. The best thing about the house, is that it is right next door to Thorsgrim.
I popped in to see Thorsgrim, but he seemed in a foul mood muttering something about soft, weak-willed, disrespectful mayors. He didn’t sound like he wanted company so I left him to it.
I turned in early as I couldn’t resist the look of the bed. It has been a while since my poor body has rested in such luxury.
27th Yarthmont, Day 46
Feeling refreshed after a good nights sleep, I thought I would have a look around and introduce myself to my new “family”. Most of the villagers were friendly, but worried about the Winter and the lack of a decent harvest. I did my best to reassure them that everything would be alright. I don’t think I was particularly convincing as most of the villagers just smiled in an uncertain way. Wandering back home through the market, I found myself in the middle of an argument between and old woman (who looked like one of those witches you hear about in the stories…) and a rather pretty young woman (too tall to be truly beautiful). The young woman, whose name was Azimi, was shouting at the old woman about wanting to get out of the village and use her powers. I don’t know what powers, but the old woman, (Old Nan I think she was called) told Azimi that she wasn’t ready, and her powers were untried. This didn’t go down too well and the young woman stormed off. Despite my misgivings about her “powers”, I wonder if Azimi Bint Afaf Ibnnah Al Zarah may be able to help with the Trolls. I noticed that Old Nan was staring at me with her one good eye and I suddenly remembered I had business elsewhere, so I hurried off with the sound of a quiet chuckle following me down the street. Thinking that it was time for something to eat, I headed to the Feast-Hall. The streets felt a little empty and as I wondered where everyone was, I heard a loud cheer coming from the waterfront. It was then I remembered that the talk this morning was all about the return of the Grey Mist a local longship. Many of the families here would have a loved one on it and would be eagerly awaiting its return. By the time I made it to the dock, the crowd had mostly dispersed, however, and headed to the Hall for an “after voyage roundup”. The Grey Mist is usually just a fishing vessel, but occasionally goes out raiding as is the tradition around the Northern Reaches. Apparently this was one of the latter and one of the youngest crew members, Ragnarr Ragnarsonson, had proved himself courageous in battle against the enemy. This was worth celebrating. The celebrations went on for some time, so long that it has taken me two days to recover. As if the sickness wasn’t bad enough, the splitting head made it a million times worse. Methinks I’ll leave the drinking to the bigger folk…
2nd Klarmont, Day 49
Feeling much more Hin-like, I went in search of Thorsgrim. I eventually found him at the forge of Bronic Stonebrough. After some humorous mocking of Halflings and drinking, Thorsgrim introduced me to his new friend Kurin Stonebrough, who is the nephew of Bronic. Thorsgrim had found some work here to keep him occupied between sermons and had hit it off with the young Kurin. They invited me to come and have a few drinks after they’d finished at the forge, but I politely declined as I don’t think my stomach was quite ready for that again. I offered my services to Bronic, telling him of my fathers forge, but he merely grunted and continued to bash the large piece of iron he was making into some sort of sharp implement. Still, he found things for me to do, mostly odd jobs and carrying things that helped me feel useful. On my way home I bumped into Ragnarr and his friend Sven Silkbeard on their way back from a rather unsuccessful hunting trip. They told me of the troubles with the Trolls and how not only had they wrecked the crops, but also scared away many of the animals. I suggested that we could gather a few able bodied persons and go hunting some Trolls. Ragnar thought this a jolly good idea but Sven was less than convinced, saying that his skills lay in other areas. As we parted, Ragnarr made some comment about being able to eat Sven’s wife, as she would be big enough to feed the whole village. Ragnarr thought this hilarious but Sven just sighed and shook his head. I am hopeful that we will be able to do something about these Trolls. There are a few people in this village that have the potential to be true Heroes…
28th Klarmont, Day 75
I’ve spent the last few weeks helping out at the forge and trying to avoid drinking with Thorsgrim and Kurin. Things are getting a bit grim in Ravenholm as the harvest has been poor and Winter is fast approaching. Still, there is one thing to look forward to, Kurin’s name-day is coming up and Bronic has invited us all to the celebration. I suspect there will be some drinking involved, so I might have to see if Old Nan has a remedy that can help me (although she still freaks me out…).
Continued in Chapter 1