Category Archives: Culture

02. Upon Arrival in Voraniss: By Edward (Helkias) Hanscom

I traveled with the caravan and the Corbachian Refugees with them throughout the realms. I made myself useful to the group and indispensable to Helkias. We would ride together when he took to a wagon, but oftentimes we would patrol the edges of the caravan. I learned long ago how to ingratiate myself with people. To get them to open up to me. To tell me everything I wanted to know. With Helkias it was both easier and nearly impossible. Every time I thought I made some headway into the stubborn dwarf-born’s life he threw up a barricade, shoddily constructed, but enough to slow my progress.

And yet I let him in. It had been well over a decade since I last felt myself. But traveling on those roads, fighting off the occasional bandits or pack of wolves alongside them. I felt more in my element than ever before. My mentor went to great lengths to strip me of self. In the grime and work of those days though I felt it scab over. Someone I left behind long ago began to heal.

Upon taking up residence in Kenkilit in the lands of Voraniss I found my first real opening with Helkias. As the stars rose and the moon was lost in its cycle I found him drinking, short legs dangling over the edges of a broken wall. Humming a tune I didn’t recognize.

“Well don’t ye linger there, girl. Move along or grab some stone,” He slung back his drink and I caught a whiff of what I can only describe as torch oil. He handed me a mug and dropped in a hefty swig.

“It won’t kill ye. Not quick anyway.”

The man who sat beside me was so different from the one I met in the tavern. He seemed lighter. As if some weight had been lifted. I heard tales from some of the other Spears about his recent adventures alongside the elf, the barbarian and the Voranians. Helkias always had a couple days of joy after his adventures in the realms, but this was different. I’d never seen him this way. I threw back the offered drink and handed it back to him.

“What happened out there?” I asked. I learned early on that subtly and deceit weren’t the right course with him. Helk appreciated directness.

He drank another.

“Met a god.”

He offered another.

“I’ve heard a bit of who he is..was…is. Hels I don’t know what to say. Vandor. His names Vandor and what he represents in Voraniss. Telym, it’s exactly the sort of cause I’ve been waitin’ for.”

I drank.

“And standing there, holding a gift from him,” He held something around his neck, but in the moonless dark, I couldn’t see what, “I don’t know. I felt renewed.”

He poured.

“There’s been talk,” I turned to look at him, again, directness, “Some of the refugees say you’re making this place your home. You and Cronin. Some of the other Spears. Are you done with Corbach and the fight back there?”

I could almost see some of the weight fall back on his shoulders. I didn’t mean to. But it was information I needed. At the time.

“Something else happened. The night before we met the god. The Voranians keep as jubilant a fire as I’ve had the privilege to be a part of. They have rituals. I can’t say I understand ‘em as yet. But there’s a power to it. That community.”

He drank.

He poured, handing it back to me. All in silence before continuing.

“They asked us to burn wishes. Send them out into the sky as ash and remnant. But to do so we had to purge ourselves of the darker emotions. So as not to corrupt what we asked of their spirits, gods, whoever. I don’t claim to know it all. What it means. But I’ll tell you this girl.”

What I can only describe as peace came over him then.

I drank.

He looked into the empty mug.

“I wished to find a place then. And doing so I let go of all the hate and pain and terror and disgust that I’ve carried with me from Corbach. The next day we met their god of vengeance and protector of the innocent. This Vandor. I think it might be my place. I made my mark and said oathwords to the Archdruid. I think whoever they are that were listening heard what I asked for and granted it to me.”

“What’s it mean then? Not the big picture. What does it mean for you, Helk?” I was surprised to find I asked out of genuine interest, far beyond information gathering.

He chuckled and shook his head.

“It means that the vengeance I am going to rain down on the heads of the council and that pile of goat excrement Ser Quioren isn’t going to flash and burn. It isn’t going to come quickly. It will be no fiery burning vengeance, not vengeance born of passion and hate. It will be a rising tide of vengeance. It will slowly cover their heads and they will draw their last breaths knowing that it was I, Helkias Gotholias Ryunn, son of Keric and Alis, born of Corbach, Steward of the royal family, Blackraven that opened the floodgates and drowned them.”

The mug was destroyed. Tinder in his hands. He brushed it off and it flew into the darkness. I felt a chill run down my spine that did not correspond to the night, the dark, or a passing wind. Beside me sat a force of nature that would return to Corbach when the time came. And that force of nature laughed then.

“Hels Telym. You’ve got me talkin’ like me pops did preaching hard to the followers of Kantador’s hairy ass.”

I saw then again the lightness from before. He reached into the pack beside him and pulled out another mug.

He poured.

He began a tale from before. From back in Corbach. He spoke at length about the young princes. Prince Eric seemed to be his favorite. The smallest of the boys. But the most tenacious. I would have liked to see the man he grew into, the way Helkias spoke of him. I remembered their bodies. I remembered how Helkias spoke of that day. And it occurred to me. The days had been difficult to track. But it had to be close.

An anniversary of sorts.

We talked at length. Sharing stories of home. Keeping the darkness at bay with laughter.

And we drank.

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01. To the Corbachian War Council: By Edward (Helkias) Hanscom

Telym Poleer

Inquisitor Third Tier

Corbachian Council member

 

To the council,

 

What follows acts as both my resignation and my Confession. For the better part of a year I have followed one, Helkias Gotholias Ryunn, better known to those addressed as “The Black Raven”. Contained within are the stories I have collected both by my own eyes and from those I have travelled with. Since before the fall of Corbach’s royal family I have been attached to Helkias to discern whether or not he would serve us. I made an oath to collect as much information as I could. And that I send you now. I hope that in reading my missives you will come to understand why I end my service to you and why you should never send another to take my place.

A Meeting

My first encounter with the Blackraven was orchestrated by the council, months prior to the coup. My mentor tasked me with becoming close to the man, to ascertain his usefulness to the council’s goals.

 

Helkias took his position as the Royal family’s Austringer more seriously than the name implied. Though he was chief amongst their hunters he was so much more to the family, especially the young princes. He oversaw their education, both scholarly and in war. He taught them the lost knowledge of Kantador, a god of light known in relatively few circles. The king held the Blackraven’s council higher than most of his advisors and many other men would have used it to sway politics and grasp for position. The Blackraven did none of those things, content with his place in the world and the lives of the princes.

 

I entered the tavern shortly after dusk. It’s position relative to the King’s Keep made it a popular haunt for those that served within, though it was mostly men-at-arms and low level attendants to the king, Helkias was known to frequent the establishment. I learned quickly that it was simply their choice of brown ale that drew the man there. It wasn’t difficult to find the man I was looking for. He sat alone in the far corner, holding a flagon in one hand and a book in the other. He seemed not at all distracted by the din created by the crowd or the cacophony that was the tavern-keepers choice of musical entertainment. He turned a page as I approached.

 

“Helkias,” I long ago learned to control the pitch of my voice, but looking at my quarry now I felt it waver, however briefly.”

 

“Aye, what is it girl?” he turned another page.

 

“I was told you were looking for an apprentice.”

 

He set down the book and took a long pull from the flagon. He flicked a scarred hand above his head and it was replaced without an exchange of words or coin.

 

“It’s true, the boy I trained to keep my arms and armor has become taken with a travelling minstrel and who am I to stand in the way of love,” he laughed at some jest I didn’t seem privy to, “It’s hard work and I can’t say I am kind to my equipment.”

 

“I learned from me pa how to handle flame and forge,” I lied.

 

“Ye can’t be more’n what twenty winters?”
“Twenty four,” I lied again.

 

“Come to the keep at dawn. Ye got papers I assume. Can read and write?”

 

“Well enough, mum saw to that.” I never knew my parents, but some lies pass easily enough.

 

“What’s your name, girl?”

 

“Telym. Telym Poleer,” A truth at last. None but my mentor knew my real name. No one else cared to learn it. It was meant as a protection. But this grain of truth held the web of lies I spun together with a single strand of honesty.

 

“Well Telym, til the morrow,” He picked up his book where he left off.

 

I spent three months slowly ingratiating myself with the man. I learned a great deal about his time before his appointment. His family in the hills. His father the priest. The loss of his faith and so the power he was supposed to carry. None of it presented an opening to twist and pull and make him the council’s man. Still I listened and I learned. The way he treated the young princes was unheard of. They were not pampered and princely when they came to his yard. Hours spent being pummeled with wooden sword and shield. Learning when to deflect and when to evade. When to advance or retreat. The lessons learned there may have shone through later in life, if they had the chance. Helkias did not discriminate either, he actively cared about those who came through his yard and be it prince, servant, or blacksmith’s daughter he would train them. So it was that my years of training with the blade was augmented by the man I was betraying on a weekly basis.

 

My mentor sent no word when the time came. And I only heard about the flight of the Blackraven. The royal family butchered and under Helkias’ care. I knew it would break him. Knew he would lose all purpose.

 

I was wrong. I was so very wrong.

 

The council sent me to catch up with the refugees to ensure they chose exile and not open rebellion. So it was that I passed through the broken lot of them. And there he stood, alongside a barbarian from the North. Armor burnt black. Spear and shield sundered. But as the two of them spoke others joined them. And it wasn’t anguish or horror that I saw spread across his face. It was something that I only saw three times in my months of knowing him. Once that first night when I watched from the shadows and he turned a page. Once when young prince Eric defeated three older boys in a particularly nasty bit of combat. And once when I told him the lie of my home, my mother and father how I imagined them. Unevenly he smiled and slapped the barbarian on the back. It seemed they’d decided something of import. He turned and looked over the refugees and locked eyes with me. We exchanged a nod. It wasn’t until later that I’d learned he knew who I was from the moment I entered the tavern.

 

It wasn’t until later I learned why he accepted my betrayal.

 

Legends of Voraniss: Sariandi the Sly

If Mon’ghora was the Queen of the Forest, Sariandi would have been her advisor. The vixen always had the Queen’s confidence, and was found at her side sharing in her secrets even before the start of the War of the Giants; but when Mon’ghora was flung far up into the sky things began to fall apart. The animals of the land found themselves without strong leadership in the face of a new wave of Giant aggression. They were hunted for pelts that the Giants would drape about their shoulders like morbid fashion statements or used for rugs in the cold, stony, and damp caverns that most of the Giants called home.

In a panic, the animals scattered. They had no desire to be the next to fall and their will to fight was decimated when they saw their loved ones being used as trophies. How cruel the world was when fear was so great that the fires of vengeance had been completely smothered by it.

Sariandi knew that if something didn’t change, and soon, the Giants would win this fight and forever change the face of this great land. Unlike the others, her passion for victory had not entirely faded. She kept Mon’ghora’s face in the forefront of her mind, remembering the love the two friends had shared. She clung to those memories and used them to keep herself going. She ran with the others, all the while plotting and scheming her next move.

One day the animals had a terribly close call. A small group of them had stopped by the lake to drink, swim, and refresh their weary bodies when they heard the rumbling of nearby Giant feet. One Giant was enough to tip them off to the danger, but there was definitely more than one. All around them the startled animals could feel the ground shake. Even the trees were trembling, losing their leaves against their will as the Giants intruded upon the quiet paradise.

“Run!” they cried. “The Giants are coming!” And run they did, though many were lost as the Giants seized up the limbs of trees and batted at the slowest animals in the back; clubbing them over the head to stun and grab them up. The whole earth shook as they pursued the fearful creatures. When they laughed, it surfaced as a cruel and odorous wind that the animals thought they could never unhear.

“Get the beasts! Get them! Let their hides be trophies for King Velindahl!” One Giant shrieked above the others.

King Velindahl was the leader of the Giants, and Sariandi was not impressed by him. He boldly claimed to be descended from the earth itself, and was often depicted sitting upon a throne of gold and rare gems that had been expertly handled to make each facet shine as bright as a star. Mon’ghora had always said he was a braggart, thinking that the advanced smithing techniques of the Giants put them far above the other creatures living in this land. It was that same sense of superiority that had started this war, Sariandi believed. King Velindahl had always been jealous of Mon’ghora’s popularity and status and so it only made sense that his Giants lashed out at her because of his ego. If only there was some way to use it against him…

Sariandi continued to run, fleeing for her life as the Giants began to gain on them. It wasn’t looking good. Their long strides gave them an unavoidable advantage, and their advance wasn’t going to be stopped by brute force; not without organized resistance anyway. The vixen grit her teeth, feeling the pounding vibrations of their pursuers beneath her paws when she was struck with an idea. She paused, suddenly, urging the others to continue.

“Go, run! Save yourselves! I have a plan!” she cried.

“No Sariandi! You can’t!” the animals pleaded, “They’ll kill you!”

“Do as you’re told,” she growled back in frustration. “I will be fine knowing that you made it to safety.” This uttered, the vixen turned and started to run back towards the Giants. Everyone stared in shock, surprised by the sudden audacity of this little fox. Sariandi wasn’t a brawler like Mon’ghora had been. Nor was she huge. She may have even been runty by fox standards, with tiny black paws and a crooked fluffy tail, but at least she was quick. She ran as fast as she could, trying to get the attention of her enemies. “Hey! You there! Let my people go and you’ll be rewarded!”

The Giants looked up in surprise upon being addressed. “Are you talking to us? What do you have that could possibly appease us beside the fur upon your skin and the meat upon your bones?” they teased.

Sariandi was careful to not stop running. If the Giants caught her before her bait had been delivered, then this entire maneuver would have been for naught. “I have information for King Velindahl. Information about the location of Mon’ghora’s secret treasure.”

“Secret treasure?” One of the Giant’s scratched his chin, unsure if the fox could be believed. “Why don’t you just tell us? We can bring it back for him.”

“I tell King Velindahl, or I tell no one. Your King wouldn’t like it if he found out that you had lost this information for him…would he? I hear he has quite the temperament,” Sariandi said coyly. She knew she had them now. Velindahl was notorious for his barbarous attitude towards those that had failed him. His own reputation would be his undoing.

“Well, no. Of course he wouldn’t like that,” the biggest of the Giants said. “Fine. We’ll stop chasing your friends for now, but you have to come with us and tell the King your secrets. If you don’t, we’ll crush your skull and use the splinters of your bones for toothpicks. Do you understand?”

“I understand,” said Sariandi, and she cautiously ventured forward into the waiting palm of her enemy. “I am with you.”

The Giants marched back in the direction of the mountains and took Sariandi with them. At their pace they were able to travel distances that might have taken Sariandi days by herself. Despite her anger with the Giants, she was still impressed by this and marveled at the speed with which they traversed the countryside. They were eager to get home and make their King happy, thinking they were bringing him the greatest gift he had ever received.

When they arrived at the entrance to King Velindahl’s cave, Sariandi realized that it was far more than some dark hole. This was a mountain stronghold built directly into the stone and disguised as a natural feature of the land so that its true entrance might not be so easily discerned by outsiders. Their stone craft was so impressive that for a brief instant, Sariandi lamented that the Giants were her adversaries. What they could have learned from each other if only their existence hadn’t been plagued by war and competition.

She was brought before King Velindahl and set upon a stone pedestal so that she was higher off the floor than she would have liked to be. The King wasn’t keen on bending over to listen, the Giants explained when she looked confused. Sariandi tilted her head as she regarded King Velindahl up close for the first time. The throne of gold hadn’t been a myth after all, but it was Velindahl himself that really caught her undivided attention. His skin was like marble; stone painted with darkened veins that curled around his arms and down his body. His long hair sparkled like a waterfall of crystallized quartz, and his beard was equally extravagant. He must have been a sight to behold in the daylight, casting small rainbows all about him.

He sat tall upon his throne for the moment, refusing to bend down and make eye contact. “What is this?” he asked, motioning to Sariandi on the pedestal before him. “You bring me a live one? What use have I for such? Kill it and be done with the deed.”

“My King, please. This one claims that it has information for you regarding the whereabouts of Mon’ghora’s treasures. It wouldn’t tell any but you,” one of the Giants explained.

“Mon’ghora’s treasures?” King Velindahl lifted one of his brows, trying not to give away just how excited he was by the prospect. He inched forward and finally looked at Sariandi as though seeing her for the first time. “Is this true, beast? Do you have this information?”

“I do, great King. May I just say what a pleasure it is to finally make your acquaintance? I had heard stories of your majesty, but I am humbled seeing it in person for the first time,” Sariandi said with a smile. The best lies always came with a kernel of truth.

“Is that so?” The Giant King bristled with a bit of pride at the flattery. “Well now, most of your kind don’t share your keen senses.” He chuckled to himself, slowly blinking his large eyes. “How do you know Mon’ghora? What was your relationship?”

“I was one of her servants, your majesty. I helped take care of her family, and often aided her with family matters,” Sariandi replied. This too was not entirely a lie. As a friend and confidant, Sariandi had seen more of Mon’ghora’s personal life than most were privy to.

“Mmm-hmm,” the Giant mused, pinching his chin between his thumb and pointer finger. It was a boring relationship, so he had no reason to question its validity. “What do you want in exchange for this information? I assume you want something. Most do.”

Sariandi looked up at the Giant and tilted her head in the other direction. “I am not sure how much I can trust that my wishes will be granted. How am I to know that you or your kin will not just kill me when I have divulged my valuable secrets?”

Velindahl slammed a fist against his chest before pushing a hand back through his hair. “A good King always keeps his word.”

“Would you swear upon a standing stone?” Sariandi pressed. She knew that most folk were highly superstitious about the mysterious rocks, none more so than the Giants.

“I would,” Velindahl said sternly.

Sariandi nodded and bowed her head. “I should have known that the King of the Giants would be so generous and virtuous,” she said in praise, “not to mention strong.”

“It is often the strong that are in the position to offer mercy,” he bragged. “Come now. Tell me what you seek in exchange for Mon’ghora’s treasure.”

Sariandi paused a few moments to make it seem like she was deep in thought and carefully considering her desires. When at length she spoke again, she had one simple request. “I wish to see a demonstration of your strength, mighty King. How deep a hole could you punch into the ground in one go? I’m guessing at least a mile by the size of your arms. You’re probably even a better digger than me.”

“Child’s play,” the King scoffed, “But my word is my word and I will keep it.” He rose from his throne and plucked up Sariandi in his hand as he strode outside, placing her down when he came to a wide, flat place that he found suitable to her challenge. “Steady yourself, little beast,” he cautioned. He pulled his arm back and bent his elbow so that it stood above his head.  With a powerful yell, he drove his fist forward into the ground and shattered the rock beneath him. The earth moaned in pain as the wounds ran deep, but King Velindahl was laughing too hard to hear it. “See? The stories of my greatness rival the might of the Primals themselves!”

“Is that so? Wow! I’ve never met anyone as great as you,” Sariandi kept goading him on. “I bet you could beat one of those in a fight too, huh?”

“Of course I could!” Velindahl kept laughing, snorting air in through his nose. “No Primal could withstand the might of my fist! I can break mountains and shatter diamonds with my fingers!”

But Sariandi wasn’t the only one that heard the claim. Deep beneath the ground there stirred a force so ancient that it was there when the world was made. An Earth Primal had awoken, and it was not pleased with the wound it had already sustained from this Giant, nor the ensuing taunts and challenges.

All around Sariandi and the Giants the mountains began to groan and crack, shifting into earthen appendages. The world shook as it came alive, and those angry hands lashed out as a man might lash out at a bug. The mitts of stone pushed together and squished everything into their palms, destroying King Velindahl, his palace, his minions, and Sariandi all in one fell swoop. Where there was once a vibrant civilization of Giants and their skilled craftsmen, now there was only a stone tomb; and a mountain carved from their corpses.

The few Giants that did manage to survive that day surrendered to the Animal-kin and retreated into the mountains never to be seen again; humbled by the true power of nature. Sariandi’s people began to worship her as a hero after her death, learning of her deeds from the Giants that loathed her for this trickery and manipulation. All that was left of Giant-kind after that were bits and traces of their peoples; lost artifacts and swirling runes that can be found all over Voraniss to this day.

Legends of Voraniss: Mon’ghora the Sky Boar

Unlike the tales of Osag and Riel’iefyr, the story of Mon’ghora isn’t about the heroic deeds of some Man or Elf. Her story reminds us that there are ancient places upon this earth where humanoids still fight for power against the mighty primordial beasts that once controlled the world. You see, Mon’ghora was not in fact a person, but an enormous boar that towered over six feet high. In her prime she was a walking boulder; a huge creature with jagged tusks and an angry squeal that could split the heavens when she was in a foul mood.

Many hunters tried to slay her, but they always met with disaster. Her toughened hide turned away their spears like harmless children’s toys, and her charge could not be halted by any wall they could build. Her ferocity went unmatched, and she became a Queen of the forest like no other as warriors of every specie fell in line behind her as a sign of respect.

Unfortunately for Mon’ghora, her great power invited the envy of the Giants. It was they, with their great height and close proximity to the clouds, who should command the hearts of the masses they believed. In secret they plotted, keeping an eye on Mon’ghora and her followers so that they might strike when the time was right.

One day when Mon’ghora and her people were traveling close to the Calandia mountain pass, the Giants attacked. Some of them covered the exit to the pass with huge rocks along with their bodies; trying to prevent escape. The other Giants had climbed up the cliffs, looking down upon the trapped Animal-kin and various humanoids that usually traveled beside the Queen Boar, as they lifted logs and enormous stones like projectile weapons.

Protectively, Mon’ghora urged her followers to run back the way they had come and away from the trap the Giants had sprung…but she was not to go with them. Never one to back down from a fight, the she-Boar turned angrily to face the barricade that had been constructed before her and used her own body to plug up the pass and prevent the giants on the ground from pursuing those that fled.

Stomping her hooves into the dirt, the earth began to shake and tremble beneath her. Several Giants tumbled down from the cliffside and crashed into the rock below where they were buried beneath an angry landslide. Mon’ghora didn’t stop there. The mighty creature began to scream and squeal, causing her remaining opponents to cover their ears in desperation.

Sensing the weakness of her enemies, Mon’ghora charged forth as she mustered all the fierce and righteous rage that she could. Panicking at the sight, the first Giant in her path lowered his spear to skewer her; but the weapon snapped upon impact and she gored him through the legs on her way by. Blood littered the ground of the mountain pass and Giants dove out of her way as fast as they could; terrified that they too would be on the receiving end of her furious punishment.

Unable to see clearly through the haze of mayhem, the last Giant in her path saw her coming only when she was already on top of him. He didn’t have enough time to raise his weapon, so he did the only thing he could think of in the heat of the moment. The Giant grabbed Mon’ghora by the tusks and started to swing her. Round and round he spun until he was so dizzy that he could no longer see straight. Nauseous and drunk with terror he let out a fatalistic scream of his own as he finally released her.

Up into the air Mon’ghora went sailing, boring a hole through the clouds and sky. The friction of the fast moving wind upon her skin caused her to combust into flames, but still she didn’t stop charging. This was how the sun was born the locals tell me. Each day you can see Mon’ghora running around the world as she eternally chases the Giants that dared defy her, and each day she disappears for a short while as the world mourns her departure to the heavens and the sky turns dark with despair.

Some of the Orcs tell the story a little differently. They say that Mon’ghora only went berserk in the pass because she was trying to protect her family and infant child. They also suggest that they are descended from her, the peoples that were chosen to carry on her bloodline of strength and unwavering ferocity in the heat of battle. It might explain their cultural attitudes, and maybe even their tusks. Unfortunately, there aren’t any Orcs alive today, which we know of, that were around during the time this legend began.

Either way, the story is an interesting one and showed us just how much respect still exists within our lands for the once powerful Queen.

Understanding the Broken Spears Treaty with Voraniss: By Adrian Cronin(The Barbarian) and Renee Booke aka Mouse

At Tournaments of Creathorne this year, while nations took to the field to establish their prowess in combat, other interesting things were going on. The Broken Spears and the nation of Voraniss were busy signing a treaty. To understand this document, and the story behind it, one must first understand the parties involved.

The Broken Spears were formally a group of refugees from the land of Corbach. The prominent members of the company range from a rebellious street magician to a secretive scholar. From peasant farmer to elven ranger. The one thing they had in common was an enemy. And this enemy was born of political corruption and tyranny.

Things in Corbach slowly degraded in the decades before the rebellion. Taxes and tariffs became so cumbersome that many businesses were forced to close. Their military was involved in so many conflicts that it seemed their soldiers would never come home. As tempers began to rise, curfews were instated and traveling at night on the road was punishable by death. This and many other burdens fell upon the people of Corbach. But it was the death of their King, and all of his heirs which ignited the rebellion to its greatest heights.

The rebellion had no true leader, but instead was organized through a series of secret correspondences which were organized and directed by persons unknown to this day. But one particular group grew too large to hide and too dangerous to ignore. This group of war veterans, highwaymen and freedom fighters began raiding the homes and estates of the new Corbach royalty. Burning down fields of crops that they knew fed the incredibly large Corbach military. Causing disruption and devastation with each passing victory. They were precise, efficient and savage. But as their momentum grew, so did the response from Corbach. Through propaganda and fear mongering, it was the very citizens the rebellion was fighting to protect who became Corbach’s greatest weapon.

Once their location was known, it was only a matter of time. Their camp was burned, their men slaughtered or worse captured and made example of. Most of the rebels whose identities remained secret, returned to normal lives within the country, where they would wait for the spark of rebellion to return. Unfortunately for some, their methods were a bit too ostentatious as well as their appearances to hide in plain sight. Plus many of them had no homes to return to. And so, with the threat of imprisonment or worse at their heels, the rebellion was squashed and scores became refugees fleeing to the south.

The greatest and wisest among them rose to leadership positions within the caravan. The burden being shared by three men. Cronin the Barbarian, a great warrior from the rebellion stood as a figurehead. His judgment and level headedness had seen the rebellion through hard times. It was he who promised to find those who followed a new home for which to settle. Helkias the Blackraven, was nothing short of a legend within the rebellion. He used his wits to keep the group well supplied and well armed, and trained those who were willing, in the ways of battle. Matthew had lost more than any man or woman in the caravan. His origins were known only to Helkias and Cronin. Matthew elected to keeping people fed and healthy. More than anything, he lifted the spirits of the refugees.

The road through the lands to the south was fraught with peril. It seemed each new land they visited was plagued by undead or worse. As many of the refugees began to take up the sword and join the front lines of these conflicts, Cronin began to see potential where burden once stood. And so Cronin the Barbarian, with Helkias Blackraven as his second, formed, “The Broken Spears Free Company.” The Company fought alongside the heroes of the realms in many battles and finally found promise when Cronin met with Hygar and Kindrianna Athame and found that they could assist one another for the mutual gain of both their peoples.

 

It was at this junction, that Hygar and Cronin forged the bond that would change the fates of both of their peoples.

 

Voraniss, although a relatively young nation, had seen hardship in recent days when the Shadowlands rose up from the ocean. The small city of Kenkilit had been destroyed by this process, and consumed by mountains and spikes of land. What was left of it was certainly natural, defensible territory, but Hygar’s attention was focused on other issues. The population of his lands was growing quickly, and with trouble brewing in the neighboring country of New Verai; not to mention the threat of the Night Pack, the Archdruid had his hands full.

At its heart, Voraniss was a place with great affinity for magic, ritual, and respect for the natural order. These values allowed the forest’s denizens to live in harmony with the wilderness around them, but also gave them compassion for those creatures and beings without a home. This is what Hygar and Kindrianna saw in the Broken Spears when their Free Company of refugees first arrived.
After much deliberation and discussion, Hygar offered The Spears what remained of the Keep and surrounding territory of Kenkilit. This mountain refuge was severely damaged, and in desperate need of repair and occupation, less it becomes a staging ground for some invading force. The Spears, in turn, offered protection to Voraniss and now act as its first line of defense in the event of war from their neighbors from the east.

Autonomy was freely given to the Spears, as long as they followed the laws of the land. However, seeing the opportunity to unify the two groups, Hygar also included a clause in the treaty which would deepen their relations. Should half or more of the Broken Spears decide to settle in Voraniss and pledge themselves to Hygar, then Cronin would rise to the position of “Druid of the Circle”, which is the ruling council beneath Hygar, Kindrianna and Gavin. This would allow Cronin to look out for his people and continue on as their Commander. No one could have predicted that the groups would get along as well as they did, for not a day had passed before Cronin was granted the title, though ceremonies and rites still remained.

And so it stands. The Broken Spears stand vigil in the east. Offering protection to the people of Voraniss while restoring Kenkilit to its former glory. Many adventures still await the great nation of Voraniss as well as many perils, but they will be met with the full fury of the Broken Spears and the Druidic Circle of Voraniss!

 

Creatures of Voraniss: The Kul’Matha

Apart from the poachers and trespassers that occasionally venture into Voraniss, you won’t find a more despised creature than the Kul’Matha. Standing on average around five to six feet tall, their bodies are covered in green, brown, and black scales that look slimy to the touch; the perfect colors to help them blend in with their surroundings. Best described as lizards that walk around on two legs, they have claimed ownership of the Voraniss swamps for generations and don’t take kindly to anyone asserting otherwise. Some people speculate that they are the cause of rumors stating that Voraniss has alligators in its southern freshwater. This is not in fact true, for the climate of the temperate forest would not support such things.

 
Upon first glance one will immediately notice not just the claws and razor sharp teeth, but the long tails of these creatures. These tails are prehensile, meaning they have the ability to grasp or hold objects. Additionally, the tails help the Kul’Matha with balance, swimming, and even their ability to find and eat food that lives up in the trees.

 
One of the reasons that the Kul’Matha have lasted as long as they have, despite being surrounded by enemies, is the fact that they are venomous. One bite or scratch from a Kul’Matha can kill if the wound is not tended to; and the death is not a pleasant one. Reports suggest that discomfort begins with redness and swelling around the area of impact. This can quickly lead to tingling, burning, stinging, or other rather abnormal feelings upon the skin. Things will then escalate into nausea, dizziness, breathing difficulties, confusion…then finally either paralysis, coma, or death depending on how fortunate the individual is. The strangest part of all of this is that each victim will begin leaking green fluid from the eyes, nose and ears, usually right before the final stage of the venom’s journey. When a Shaman or Healer see this in Voraniss, they know they don’t have a lot of time left to save the wounded.

 
To make matters worse, it isn’t just the venom that makes the Kul’Matha feared. They are also harbingers of diseases that effect the rest of the populace. Besides the mites and threat of rabies, the Kul’Matha have a wide variety of bacteria that live on their body that can cause outbreaks. Warriors getting into confrontations with the Kul’Matha, if they were lucky enough to survive the venom, soon learned that cleaning up after a fight was just as important as the battle itself.

 
Being semi-aquatic creatures, the diet of the Kul’Matha consists of a lot of fish, snakes, and frogs; anything that they can catch in the murky swamp waters that they call home. Particularly aggressive Kul’Matha have been known to climb trees to chase after birds and fat squirrels that they think might make a good meal. It is worth noting that these creatures are not opposed to eating other humanoids, but they won’t go out of their way to hunt them except during the summer solstice. More often than not they like to be left to their own devices and are ultimately opportunistic hunters that will take advantage of anything or anyone that enters their territory without permission. They won’t bother the Lycan population if the Lycans don’t bother them.

 
That being said, if a Lycan or other humanoid does happen to enter the territory of the Kul’Matha, they’ll need the help of whatever benevolent spirits they believe in. The Kul’Matha do not fight fair; hunting in small raiding parties while using their stealth to its fullest advantage. They can see perfectly fine in darkness and will never fight you directly if they can help it. Instead they will rely upon surprise attacks and ambushes to minimize their losses. They are clever hunters who have adapted to a savage environment and don’t concern themselves with civilized concepts of honor and decency. To them, survival is the most important part of any violent exchange whether hunting food, or hunting an enemy. They have been found to be more active during the daylight hours because of their reptilian biology. The darkness seems to leave them slow and sluggish.

 
This biology is one of the reasons locals believe the Kul’Matha are so active during the time of the summer solstice. Celebrating the sun during its highest altitude of the year, the creatures become emboldened and construct a variety of ostentatious floats and river barges. They use these creations to cross over the rivers from the swamp and into Lycan territory where they teach their young brood to raid; “blooding” them as it were, and teaching them to become full-fledged warriors. This practice is just another reason why such hostile tensions exist between the two species.

 
There is more to them than their brutality, however. The Kul’Matha are also highly intelligent and have developed a language of their own, both verbal and written. They should be praised for their contributions to herbal medicine as well, for their own Priests somehow manage to take swamp plants and turn them into very sophisticated medicines that are far beyond anything any other species in Voraniss has been able to accomplish thus far. It is also said that the Kul’Matha are experts in reed weaving, making many baskets and primitive pieces of furniture using the techniques passed down through their culture.

 
Their villages primarily consist of clusters of small huts on stilts that you can find scattered throughout the swampland region. None of the villages are enormous and individual populations never seem to exceed beyond the low hundreds. While they can see in the dark, the Kul’Matha seem to love fire and will announce the presence of their homes with an abundance of torchlight almost like they are warning you “We’re over here. Stay away.”

 
Despite their love of stealth and keeping quiet while on the prowl, the Kul’Matha have a fondness for ceremonial dress and will adorn themselves with bright plumage and necklaces of clinking teeth and bones when gathered together in their own villages. Outsiders speculate that these collections of trinkets and feathers are a Kul’Matha’s way of attracting a mate, or proving that one can provide for another. The more trophies a Kul’Matha has, the more powerful and respected they seem to be. Unlike many species, size doesn’t seem to play a role in how they choose their leadership, leading many to think that the Kul’Matha place much value in action over words or ideas and assumptions of weakness.

 
This concept seems to be true in terms of gender as well, for the females of the Kul’Matha do fight alongside the males from what most have reported. What is peculiar, however, is that the females seem to be highly valued to the males. Warriors have said that after slaying a female Kul’Matha in battle, the remaining males have beserked and raged all at once. Researchers hypothesize that this may be evidence that the Kul’Matha are matriarchal in nature. The only visible difference between the two genders as far as we can tell, is that the females seem to possess extra glands upon the cheek bones that house a more potent venom that is capable of disintegrating flesh.

 
The last interesting piece of information we have on the Kul’Matha pertains to their sense of spirituality. Like many of the creatures that make their home within Voraniss, the Kul’Matha have reverence for the natural world and its bounty. Instead of worshipping a variety of totems or spirts though, they focus on one creature: a very large winged serpent they call Kul’Mathanigalurgtha. Supposedly they believe that they were born when this serpent laid her eggs upon the earth and breathed her fire across the world.

 
Love them or hate them, the Kul’Matha have lived within Voraniss for many years and are here to stay. Most of the locals have learned just to leave them alone out of respect and fear for the capable creatures, but every so often tempers will flare and fights will break out. This is just life in Voraniss. The wheel will always keep on turning.

Tips and Tricks On: How to Avoid Stagnation & Boredom in LARP

As a LARPer, I hear all the time that people are getting bored with their respective games. They are looking for new ways to spice up their experience after being a part of the same community for 20+ years, or looking for new ways to reaffirm bonds of friendship with their countrymen. The good news is that this is a fairly common phenomenon. The bad news is that it will take a little work on your part to get through it. We can’t always have a passive role in our own futures and leave everything up to the event holders that have enough on their plates. Below are some tips and ideas you can feel free to use to help you on your journey:

1.)    Consider what groups or orders might be appropriate for your character to pursue. Expand your horizons outside of your nation. Does your character worship a deity? Is there a religious order or a knighthood that might be appropriate for you? Do the research and make the connections within the community. Communicate what you’re looking for and people may be able and willing to point you in a direction. Most games have a wide variety of different organizations for you to belong to if you’re willing to put in the effort. If you can’t find one that you feel is appropriate, consider starting your own!

2.)    Open yourself up to learning a new skill or craft. There is always room for improvement in everything we do. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try leatherworking. Maybe you want to get better at foamsmithing or even throwing events of your own. Why not take the time to give it a go? Find someone in the community that can give you some starting tips and advice and work on building that weapon/piece of garb/monster/dungeon you’ve always wanted to. Just like learning how to fight, these are all valuable skills that are only going to get better with practice.

3.)    Assess your weaknesses and strengths, and push yourself to go beyond. If you’re an excellent Role-player that wants to fight better, start attending some practices or find a mentor that you trust to push you outside of your comfort zone so that you might be able to have the confidence to enter some tournaments. If you’re an amazing fighter but you’re too shy to engage in much RP the same applies. Find someone you like or trust to bring you in and get you involved. LARPing communities tend to be very friendly and most people will be all too happy to get you involved in the various aspects of the game that they are passionate about.

4.)    Plan active bonding activities with your nation and friends. If you have permission from the leadership of your nation you might want to try getting everyone together at an event for story time by the fire, a group ritual, group training or fight practice etc. Whatever you feel is an appropriate and enjoyable activity for your respective group of friends. Relationships take work, and if you want to keep people invested in the success of the group then you’ll have to be equally invested in those bonds of friendship. This is also relevant on an OOC level. Make plans to do things together outside of events. Maybe hit up a Renaissance Faire or go to the movies, have a craft night or a party at somebody’s house. All of these are valid ways to just enjoy each other’s company.

5.)    Consider setting goals for yourself. This can be very motivating for people who are driven and independent. Make yourself a LARP “bucket list” as it were, and think about all the things you really want to do that you haven’t yet accomplished. From there, break down your goals into achievable and measurable steps. As an example, say my goal was to become a well-respected shield fighter in a specific game. I might take it a step further and start by saying I’ll hit a certain number of practices a month, that I’ll participate in a certain number of tournaments and so on and so forth. I can expand on my goals as I achieve them, while keeping them reasonable. Don’t keep your goals so far out there that you get discouraged before you really have a chance to explore them.

Obviously this is a very limited list of what you can do to make your LARPing experience more enjoyable, but it is a good starting point on how to deal with a common complaint. Maybe it will even inspire you to come up with suggestions/ideas of your own. Either way, I wish you the best of luck! Remember, it’s okay to ask questions and it’s okay to fail! Learn from everything you do, and you’ll be far less likely to suffer from regret and stagnation.