The Journals of Sparrowhawk
Tor arrives at the Storm Lord's Keep
In front of you only darkness. You call out. The greeting soon returns as it echos around a vast chamber. Then, from behind, the rhythmic tapping of metal on stone. Turning around you notice in the distance, some 500ft ahead, a giant figure kneeling before a great column of stone. A half-dozen wooden torches burn in sconces held aloft on iron poles, providing illumination for a stonemason. Between you both, and evenly spaced throughout what little of the chamber you can see, are dozens of other massive stone columns. Each column measures some 20ft in diameter and stretches from the stone paved floor beneath your feet up into the impenetrable darkness above. Depicted on each of the columns is a near life-size battle between armoured giantkind and demons, devils and aberrations of all descriptions.
You weave your way towards the kneeling figure and regard the immaculately carved figures on the pillars as you do so. In most of the struggles it’s the frost and boreas giants besting their foes, but in many are depicted loss and sorrow as the forces of Discordant triumph. In some of the backgrounds can be glimpsed aspects of the Storm Lords keep or the great sentinel towers of stone that until recently ringed Discordant. As you get closer to the stonemason, and in the flickering half-light of the torches, the shadows on the carvings dance around giving you the feeling the battles themselves are slowly moving over time. At the base of each pillar is chiseled text, a peom perhaps, with many dozens of lines. The odd word you take in seems to fit loosly with the unfolding scene above.
As you approach to within a few feet of the giant, hunched figure it rises up and turns around to face you; a highly muscular giant, standing some 23ft in height; light green skin, dark green hair and beard and with glittering emerald eyes. He wears a long leather apron, blackened in places perhaps from spluttering burning embers, on top of simple brown trousers and blue shirt. In his hands, a well crafted but plain looking hammer and chisel. Upon the pillar before you a scene enacted only a minute before; yourself, Sparrowhawk – in his vampiric form, Sagramor and Quill stand facing the entrance to the Storm Lords keep. Upon the battlements skeletal giants hurl rocks as demonic archers let loose volleys of arrows towards the family. At the base of the pillar some lines of verse have already been etched. The giant speaks to you.
“Welcome Tor. I am Ulfrekr Valgaror. I too was a Storm Lord many centuries ago. I need to tell you a few things about our expectations. Within this hall are told the stories of our brave. The life and death of each of our warriors, who sacrificed their dreams for a greater cause, is carved upon these monoliths. Our battles, all, are immortalised here in this great Hall of Feasting. And when the last of the Storm Lords lives no more, the Crown you wear will crack and fall to dust. At this time the Storm Lords will gather in this everlasting hall and regale each other of our greatest victories and most bitter defeats; of the great and the good that stood and fell by our sides. Whichever way you decide to serve the gods, Tor, be sure to do it well, for there are many epic tales depicted in this hall, all eager for the telling. Be sure, there is a burden of expectation upon you, as the last of the Storm Lords. Make sure you provide a fitting end to our tale. A final chapter in the greatest story of them all. Here, I have started a tale within the last Storm Lords column – for your story has already begun. Have a read. Perhaps you will help me fill in the rest when we next meet?
When the whirlwind of fury comes from the
Throne of Azumreh, and the frowns of his countenance
Drive the seas apart, who can stand?
When Orcus claps his broad wings over the battle,
And sails rejoicing in the flood of death;
When souls are torn to everlasting fire,
And fiends of Discordant rejoice upon the slain,
O who can stand? O who can answer the cries of man?
O for a voice like thunder, and a tongue
To drown the throat of war! When the senses
Are shaken, and the spirit within is driven to madness,
Who can stand? When the souls of the oppressed
Fight in the troubled air that rages, who will stand?
And of this place? Mnemona created it for us, at the behest of the other gods, that we have a place to heal our wounds and drink our fill as a reward for a selfless life of duty. Not far from here is the great feasting table around which have been crafted 14 thrones – each fit for the mightiest of Kings. The table is overflowing with cornucopia of food and drink in endless supply; great plates of meats and fruit with honey and wine. And after we have eaten all that our stomachs can bear, gotten bored of the near countless tales that three thousand years of battle have forged, and after we have found peace within ourselves once more, the gods themselves will bless us with their presence and take us from here. But as of your brother, Torreth. He did not make it here, but his story is still told and his memory will remain with us always, as courageous and wise as any. What fate the gods have for him, only they will know.
Before you leave I must warn you. The crown you bear will weigh more heavily upon you than any other. You must bear the expectation of those that have gone before and that of the gods themselves, for their gaze and judgement will follow your every move. I can understand if you are not willing to accept this. And if not, then cast aside the crown and draw to an end the final chapter. For you are not the strongest or the most wise, the most searing of intellects or the fleetest of foot. But, just perhaps, the fate of humanoid kind requires something different from you. To where will you lead them and what now can you defend them from? But if you accept the judgement that comes with the crown then you will not journey alone. Some of the crowns ancient bearers, including myself, will help where we can, to share with you a semblance of our accumulated knowledge. Call upon us when you rise afresh from rest and be fortified. You may call upon myself, an artificier and craftsman in my time; Sigurdur Aumundursun – the wolf lord, as unyielding as the mountains high and as fast as the wind or Halbjorn Friomundur – who knew as much about sorcery as Boccob himself .
I’ve enjoyed our short time together, Tor, but now it’s time for you to go. I hope we meet again.”