Tales of Danabrae
Here are some small snippets of lore. Not even snippets. Scenes really. They have their place in the larger story of the Battle of Covenant, though they aren’t long enough to warrant an entire page each. Think of them as an introduction. A free sample if you will. If you want more, let us know!
The Oncoming Storm
“Do you question my orders, Captain Markus?”
“No, Lord Chamberlain,” said the Watch-Captain. “I want to confirm them. Martial law is not something that the people will easily forget, or forgive.”
Chamberlain Kark stalked to the window of his garish office. He enjoyed watching people, as long as they were small, and distant. “They will remember that we kept them safe. The priests all tell me that the Dragonsong is ending soon. If one believes such things.”
“I will lock the city down, as you wish,” said Markus. “I have heard the howl of Draka on the wind. It is only a matter of time before he attacks the city directly.”
“It’s more than that,” said Kark. “Raxxa and Zannos have ended their petty squabble, and those fools at the Forbidden Citadel have lost control of their own. Spies report a titan from the North approaching. We have to be ready for anything.”
Markus frowned. “If it is true that we are but pieces in a game of the gods, then I refuse to be discarded. I intend to make my mark, and the gods will know my name.”
Chamberlain Kark nodded. “You are my most effective weapon against the chaos. There are dark times ahead, but we have good men, and demons run when good men go to war.”
Captain Markus turned and left. He would clean the streets, and save his city. The Battle of Covenant was coming, and he intended to win.
Author’s note – Captain Markus was my absolute favourite character from the start. I had already plotted three stories involving him when I realised I really should be concentrating on someone else! I wanted each story involving him to highlight a facet of his character. In Covenant, he’s an absolute bastard. Consumed with catching Paros, he is ready to burn any bridge he feels necessary. Cry Havoc shows us a very different Markus. Hardly warm, he does show a more human side. Almost likeable! This little snippet gives us some insight into his sense of duty, and his relationship with Kark.
Despite what you may have heard, I’m not done with Arik Markus. There are more tales to tell.
Crossing the Everblessed
The Forcemage stood at the edge of the great forest that dominated the Pasik valley. Before him ran the Everblessed, the sacred river that protected the shining city of Convenant from the Blight of the desert wasteland the peasants called the Ahn-Het Forge. The Forge is where the demons spawned. While the river flowed, they could not cross.
He stepped forward, looking for a safe place to ford, and steeling himself for the ordeal ahead, when he heard the unmistakable growl.
The Forcemage pulled back his cloak and turned. He had not expected to be interrupted. His unique talents had caused the denizens of the forest to give him a wide berth on his journey, but this was not to be a normal encounter.
“Good morning,” said Helion. His heart raced, but he did not show his fear to the two-headed firebreathing hound. This is the one the villagers called Scarros, an ancient word meaning ‘Fear.’ Two heads. Two minds. This may be a challenge.
Scarros did not approach. Helion considered running for the safety of the Everblessed, but his brief probe of the mutated beast told him that’s what Scarros was waiting for.
Helion tried to push the hound away with his mind, but all he saw was darkness and corruption. This was Raxxa’s influence. The Demon Lord had been attempting to poison Draka the Hunter with rift energy, presumably to turn the mighty dragon to his will. Draka’s mind was strong enough to resist the darkness, at least for a time, but the corruption had to go somewhere. The forest ran wild with mutations.
The villagers had told stories of the nightmares this created. Scarros was the worst of them.
Helion took a step towards his visitor. Scarros stepped back, having never experienced someone so small being so bold. Helion raised his hand to grab the mind of the mutated hound. Their souls were fire. They burned together.
Slowly, one of Scarros’ heads dipped, then the other.
The Forcemage approached, and put his hand on the scaly surface of the corrupted hound. His touch had a singular effect, however. Scarros howled and reared, slamming one of his heads into Helion’s torso, and sending the Forcemage flying. He landed hard next to the flowing river.
Through the haze of pain, he saw Scarros. The hound was not charging for the kill. Helion saw a shadow pass across the sun, and heard the familiar call of the mighty hunter. Draka called to Scarros, and Scarros obeyed.
“Another time, Hunter,” said the Forcemage, his ego bruised more than anything else.
Helion stood and brushed his robes, and tried to regain his dignity. This was not a setback. The mind of corruption is a tough puzzle, but now he had the key. He knew what he did wrong with Scarros, and he would not make the same mistake again. The demons of the Ahn-Het Forge would bow to his will, and then… the Forbidden Citadel would be his.
Author’s note – We haven’t dealt with Helion all that much yet. His quest is interesting, and his story will be told soon. In coming up with a quick little story for each of the main characters from Uprising, a mutated hound that doesn’t speak proved to be the biggest challenge. Sometimes I like to put two characters together and see what happens (a trick I learned from Robert Holmes). Scarros also shows up in Cry Havoc.
Knights of the Dawn were not supposed to ride this far from Covenant, but Gladius was old, grizzled, and cared nothing for the rules of his order. Not when it would endanger the people of his home village. Breaking the laws of the order usually resulted in banishment, but Gladius had a higher purpose and was not afraid of such petty edicts.
Yalun was a trade village that had sprung up at the base of a long mountain range that the locals called Pantheon. Each of the frozen peaks was said to represent one of the gods of Danabrae. The path was treacherous, and was usually avoided this time of year.
Except by frost titans. It wasn’t often they would come down to the low land, but when they did, they caused havoc and strife.
Gladius had gathered a small militia at the northern gate of Yalun. Elara, of the Forbidden Citadel, had warned Covenant that the frost titan Velden was coming. Velden was a curious one, rarely leaving the peaks of Pantheon. The decision was made to leave him be, but Gladius had to be certain of the mighty lord’s motivations.
The ground shook, heralding the arrival of the largest being that Gladius had ever seen up close. Velden was the size of three buildings, and carried an axe that could easily split a cart in two.
“Steady,” said Gladius. “Don’t show fear.”
The titan calmly walked to the north gate of the village. With a curious look on the mighty blue features, he stopped.
“Frost lord,” said Gladius. “State your business. Are you friend, or foe?”
Velden gave a smirk. A curious gesture on one so large, but the directness of the question amused him.
“I have no quarrel with you, or your kin,” boomed Velden.
“I must ask you to walk around the village,” said Gladius.
“I give no reason.” Gladius had moved forward to confront the titan directly. “I am the defender.”
“And what do you propose to do if I walk where I please?”
Gladius sheathed his sword and pulled his longbow. Within seconds, he had an arrow nocked and aimed at the titan’s face. “First one eye, frost lord, then the other.”
Gladius scowled but said nothing. After a tense moment that felt like an hour, the titan suddenly moved. He spun, and ducked, and swung his titan axe in an arc, catching a tree to the right of the gate, and hurling it from its roots. The tree caught Gladius a glancing blow, knocking him of his horse. Gladius hit the dirt hard. He struggled to regain his composure, as he heard the titan stride over him.
“I have no wish to hurt you, defender. Stay down, and I will pass.”
Gladius regained his feet, seeing Velden had already stepped past the gate, and into the village proper. The ground shook, carts rattled, small thatched roofs started losing their straw. The people looked to him, their defender.
“Stop!” yelled Gladius, and with that he nocked another arrow and fired. The shard of wood struck the titan in the shoulder. It seemed to cause no pain, but Velden turned to face the knight once more. Another arrow had been aimed at his face.
“Knight,” said Velden. “You have heard the stories of me?”
“I have,” said Gladius.
“Stories of me tend to be quite… graphic. Are you not afraid?”
“I fear nothing.”
Velden considered this. He respected bravery. At least enough to not destroy it utterly. Plus, it made sense to have somebody that perhaps owed him a favor.
“If you will allow me,” said the frost lord, “I would like to walk around your village.”
Gladius lowered his bow and stepped aside. He was still wary of the titan’s motivation, but he was still a man of honor, and he would let the titan pass.
The footsteps had not quite receded when Gladius recovered his horse and mounted. Wherever Velden’s journey lay, Covenant would have to be warned.
Author’s note – Velden is coming! At the time of writing this, I had no idea what Velden’s motivations were. I had about 30 minutes to come up with something, and a tense standoff was the result. I really like Gladius in this. An old, grizzled veteran of a sacred order who kind of does what he feels appeals to me for some reason.
Now of course, I know all about Velden. Stay tuned! 😉
At the Southern edge of the Pantheon mountain range fell the waters of the Everblessed. These waters were a gift from Kalnor to the people of Covenant. The river separated the Deepwood from the desert of the Ahn-Het Forge, and the demons of the Forge could not cross the river as long as it flowed.
The stench of the Everblessed was overwhelming, but Raxxa was above it all. The mighty Demon had a purpose to fulfill.
“Corpse Lord!” he bellowed. The words had barely escaped his cavernous maw when, with the suddenness of death, Zannos appeared among the trees at the edge of the forest. The necromancer walked alone, but the roiling earth surrounding him suggested that he was not undefended.
The two unholy beings faced each other from opposite shores of the holy river. Raxxa could not cross, and Zannos was too smart to enter the Forge.
“I am not accustomed to being summoned, O lord of the nether-wastes.”
Raxxa’s glare was constant. He would love nothing more than to pull out the spine of the evil wizard, and throw it over the walls of Covenant, but this was a time for diplomacy.
“We desire the same thing.” said Raxxa. “The destruction of Covenant.”
Zannos smirked. “I agree with your goals, though your methods are sub-optimal. Your rift gate has no power, and your armies are small. There is also the matter of this river.”
“What kind of world is this, where the land holds no power? I cannot draw anything from it!”
“I can,” said Zannos. “It requires nuance to awaken the dead. I doubt your…lordship…has the touch for such delicate work.”
Raxxa bristled. The Demon Lord cared nothing for nuance and delicacy, but he would not tolerate disrespect.
“Have a care, corpsemonger. This river will dry up soon, and thus goes your protection from my wrath.”
“You have knowledge of the Dragonsong?”
“I do.” Most beings couldn’t hear the Dragonsong; many even claimed it didn’t exist. Dragons and priests were said to hear it and use it to interpret the will and whims of the gods. One thing all believers seemed to agree upon: when the song ended, the whatever game the gods played would be over.
Zannos considered this. “The song will end soon?”
“Very soon,” said Raxxa. “The river will run dry, and then Covenant will fall.”
“What do you desire of me?”
“Oppose me not, deadlord, and I will leave behind cemeteries bulging with corpses. But hear this, if I or my demons even see you or your puppets…”
“Worry not, demon. I will remain out of your way. I also wish for the fall of the shining city.” Zannos’ mouth turned into a dark smile. “Perhaps one eon, you and I will meet in the final battle.’
“I care nothing for the gods or their games,” said Raxxa. “I do as I wish.”
“Then why attack the city at all?”
Raxxa turned and walked back into the Ahn-Het Forge. He would not answer the human’s query. He had no answer, because he had never asked himself this very question. Why attack the city?
Zannos grinned as Raxxa entered the heat haze of the vast desert. The Demon Lord knew nothing of puppets. He would learn soon enough, at the fall of Covenant.
Author’s note – In Tyrants, we have Raxxa, and in Uprising, we have Zannos. A demon lord, and a zombie lord. Essentially the same character from different backgrounds. How to make them interesting? Make them bicker like an old married couple. From the dialogue, we learn a little about Raxxa’s flaws, and this is one of the first mentions of the Dragonsong.
Both are waiting to attack the shining city, but what happens when two armies share a goal and nothing else?