The Harrowed Halls of Duhn Korinth
Champion of Landis
As recounted by the troll Torgarr of Bartertown
“We scoffed, looking out at him from the tavern and raised another beer, making jokes about where he had stolen it all from. Coming through town from the plains of the valley, he looked like a mockery, another fake hero. How many self-proclaimed champions had we seen come through this town? How many had fibbed about valor and bravery, so much that even a boy of twelve could call the bluff?
“He wore a maille hauberk and steel gorget, under which you could make out a half-blue, half-gray quilted gambeson, the colors split vertically down the middle. His breeches were black with a lace up fly and drawstring knee to fit, tucked into tall black boots that foled down over his knees. A black ring belt tied it all together, and from it, a broadsword hung at his left side, a pouch and a coin bag with almost no jingle on the right. A dark blue cloak sat over his shoulders, blowing in the cool autumn wind, with its fair share of dirt at the bottom from walking many miles. He carried his visored helmet under his left arm, and a pollaxe in his right hand. A traveler’s bag was slung over one shoulder.
“As he came into the tavern, you could see his face much better now, even through the flickering lights as the candles and lanterns on the tables and walls danced with the wind that rushed inside. He looked real young. He had straight blonde hair pulled back into a loose ponytail that fell back between his shoulderblades. His eyes were a piercing blue with auburn brows curved up at the outsides and then slanted down, which gave him a more staunch look than he could prove to keep. His nose was pointed, and his face thin but squared.
“He had a decent build—for a human. What really made him stand out was not how tall he stood, but how he stood. Looking at him closer, he had a different look in his eyes. It was like he had a purpose, that boy, but you couldn’t feel the usual cocky attitude the others had. I would say it was almost warm, as if it almost reached out to you and said ‘come have a stiff drink with me, and hear my story.’
“But he reached out to no one. He spoke to no one. He only went in silence past us, his expression resolute but very exhausted. At the bar, he spoke only enough words to pay for a room, and went upstairs to disappear for the night.
“Hrmph. That’s odd. They usually brag.”
|NAME: Cassius Strontus||DISCIPLINE : Warrior (2)|
|RACE: Human||AGE: 19|
|Height: 5’9” ft||Weight: 176 lbs|
|Dexterity (14) :||6 / 1d10|
|Strength (16) :||7 / 1d12|
|Toughness (16) :||7 / 1d12|
|Perception (12) :||5 / 1d8|
|Willpower (14) :||6 / 1d10|
|Charisma (14) :||6 / 1d10|
|Physical : 8||Step : 2 (6-4)||Physical : 10||Carrying : 160 lbs||Dice : 1d6||Rate : 6|
|Spell : 7||Dice : 1d6 -2||Mystic : 2||Lifting : 320 lbs||Max : 10|
|Social : 8|
|Death Rating||Wound Threshold||Unconcious Rating||Recovery Tests||Recovery Step|
|Karma Ritual (Warrior)||(2/Cha)8||Yes||No||Sustained||0||2d6|
|K: The Passions||(1/Per)6||Standard||0||1d10|
|Dwarven Poll Axe||(8/Str)15||0||1d12,2d6|
|Scythan Bronze Drusus||(5/Str)12||1||1d12|
|Adventurer’s Kit||Traveler’s Garb||Rider’s Boots|
|Week of Rations||“Korinthian Bronze” Breast plate|
|Unspent Legend Points||Spent Legend Points||Legend Point Total||Legendary Status|
(Seven Weeks before happening upon Sturnhiem…)
Cassius and his childhood friend Guy were taught the ways of the warrior by his grandfather within the safe walls of Brannon, out of reach of any remnants of the Scourge—horror or otherwise.
After initiation, Guy, being of a much wealthier family, was called to begin his military career leading a small group of guards. His bloodline would guarantee a much higher rank in the years to come. The Le`Blanc family would not be dishonored by vagabonds in search of a dead nation, and the future was Brannon, not some forgotton fairy tale. There would be no mention of Landis.
Guy reluctantly explained that his family could not be disappointed, and that if Cassius truly believed in Landis, he would have to venture out to rediscover it without the childhood promises of his most trusted companion. “Vivat Landis!” would no longer ring from Guy’s lips as wooden swords and shields clashed in mock combat.
Mayden, Cassius’s mother, insisted that he live a life close to her in the guard under Guy’s command. “You could stay here and marry Irene,” she pleaded. She was alone, as her husband had died of fever when Cassius was five. She was always at odds with Cassius’s father, Julian, the only other surviving member of her family. “I’m sure Guy would bring you up in the ranks, as well. You could live a happy and full life of prosperity,” but Cassius would have none of it.
Irene was indeed a pretty lass, and loyal, but she was dull and didn’t smile. Even if she bore the brightest smile in Barsave, Cassius would not have been her suitor. He did not want a family. He did not want rank. He did not want prosperity. He did not want the same sights he had grown up with all these years.
He wanted Landis.
With all the childhood stories of valor and honor Grandfather had told just beneath the northern star, he set out to discover the forgotten nation of his ancestors. Vigor and dreams swelled in his heart as he kissed his mother’s cheek good-bye and took up sword and boot for everything he believed in.
(Eight days after the Battle of Sturnhiem…)
The voice echoed peacefully and gently. It was a patient voice, a soothing one. Peering through the total darkness, he tried to see who was calling him, but he couldn’t see anything. He was sure it was a woman. Who was she? Why did she seem so familiar?
“Cassius, can you hear me? You must wake up. Everybody is waiting for you,” the voice rang out again like a bell.
“What? Where are you? I can’t see a thing.” He tried to move, but pain shot through his head and he cringed.
“I’m right here. You remember me, don’t you?”
“I…”, he started.
“Cassius, everyone is waiting for you. Get up, and go to them.” The voice was growing more distant, and he could hear footsteps moving away from him, but they stopped. “Oh, I almost forgot. Mynbruje asked me to remind you of your purpose.”
“Landis?” he asked, still confused and trying to figure out who he was talking to.
The voice suddenly became very intense. “Landis has nothing to do with this, young Strontus. There are so many who need you—who need your sense of justice. Strengthen your heart, and your sword will follow.”
He was silent.
The voice lost its serious tone for a more playful one, as if you could hear the smile. “We’ll meet again, Cassius. I know it.”
He heard a door close and there was nothing.
Seconds later, his eyes snapped open and he groaned.
“The Human is awake,” spoke a deep and slow voice. Rok had seen him from the corner of his eye, and barely moved after he spoke, his gaze fixed upon the wall in a sort of infinite patience.
Li jumped up and kicked the stone wall. “OH! You sleep too far! We wait long time!”
Nodraj combed his beard with quick nervous movements like he was anticipating seeing more of the Kaer to uncover his heritage. Galea didn’t look up from her book.
Cassius looked at everyone, but nobody said anything. Even Li sat back down, legs crossed, the back of his fists resting on his knees. Moments passed in silence, but finally he broke the silence asking, “Where did she go?” in a weak voice.
“Where did who go?” Galea responded.
“It, where, um…” He shifted his weight to get up. “She was right there. She said something about Mynbruje, that it had nothing to do with Landis, it was about…”
Galea snapped her book shut and glared, interrupting him. “You axebeak brain. It was a dream.”
He shifted his weight again, but felt a sharp sting and his forearm fell out from under him, crashing onto his elbow.
Nodraj rushed over to help. “Aye lad! Careful! Ye’ve lost a lot of blood to them horror things. They bit ye hard, I say.” He picked Cassius up with ease, sitting him up against the wall.
Nobody said anything for the next few hours, giving him a chance to reflect on past events. The ork skorchers who stripped him of his belongings. The old man he saw murdered. The stajian. The espagra. The cadavermen and contorting girl with black eyes in the graveyard. The dismembered red eyes in the darkness back at Sturnhiem. The dead dwarven troop. The gnashers. All his failures. It seemed like everything he did ended up in failure.
He saw his cowardice in Valdar’s scowl again, glowering in disgrace and disapproval as he stood in front of him and the guard, the old man’s corpse near by, claiming to be the Champion of Landis, his cowardice piercing like a dagger into the truth. Had he been braver, Poot would have lived to see another day.
He saw his fear in the reflection of the the stajian’s dark beady eyes, blocking the way to the the fallen rider behind it, unconscious and helpless and dying. Had he been braver, he could have rescued the poor soul behind the beast.
He heard his weakness in Sereetha’s scream again, saw her there in the Horror’s cocoon, terror and betrayal in her eyes as she looked straight at him, screaming, after he promised to protect her. Had he been wiser, she never would have been taken away.
He saw the foolishness of his command in the corpses of each and every dwarf at the Skirmish of Sturnhiem, each and every one of which surely had a family to return to. Had he been more patient, more of those dwarves would have gone home, marching back to Metura in the glory of victory.
Who was that in the dream, after all? Where had he met her? Was it a dream or was it real? Stuck on the thought of trying to figure it out, he suddenly remembered falling to the skorchers outside Sturnhiem in the night just over a week ago…
He had seen a gloomy iron gate. There were no walls on either of its sides, and a darkness crept behind it. Gargoyles crouched on top of the pillars to either side. They had two heads, that of a ram and a horse, the body of a human, ravens’ feet, bat’s wings, and held scythes.
It was very dark behind the gate and there were gravestones. Toward the back, there was a freshly dug grave. It had no gravestone, but there was a large, handsomely decorated orichalcum spear in the loose dirt.
He knew it to be the spear of Thystonius! Valdar had told him of it. It was the spear he needed to restore Landis to its former glory! He sprinted toward the gate, running as fast as he could, but tripped on a stone and fell short of it.
Looking up and back into the graveyard, he tried again to get up to run through the gate, but two arms slowly wrapped around his shoulders and embraced him before he could start off again. Confused, he blinked, and looked down at the arms of a woman.
“What are you doing!? It’s right there! I have to get it!” he exclaimed, impatient and reckless, now fighting to get loose.
Her embrace tightened, and she pressed her cheek against his back. “Cassius, you can’t. They need you.” He froze. He still couldn’t see who she was.
“Who needs me?”
“You’ll see. Go help them.” She let go.
He looked back at the spear through the gate, and realized it was his own grave. The gargoyles turned and fixed their cold gaze upon him. He looked down and saw his own blood spewing forth from his mouth as he coughed, and looked up again to see the five skorchers who took him down that night in Sturnhiem, their flails beating the life from him in a twisted, cruel joy.
Then he closed his eyes and fell unconscious.
Now remembering that night at Death’s Gate, he knew the woman to be Garlen. But what had Mynbruje meant to say? “Strengthen your heart, and your sword will follow.” In quite contemplation, Cassius knew for certain only that he had to become stronger.
Deep down, something stirred inside him. The teachings of the passions on the scroll Valdar had given him rang clearly in his memories, but one in particular rang the loudest: “The knight’s mind is clear, and reason and truth are his strongest weapons.” Indeed, so Mynbruje has blessed us…
(In Kaer Metura after finding safety for the second time from the bronze terror that came to life, Cassius stands, clutching his fresh wounds in pain, and says to his companions…)
“The trolls speak of Katorr and Kat’ral. If there is such a thing, my Katorr is being continually insulted and we have no Kat’ral. It must change.
“There is no honor for each other and there is no honor for ourselves as a group. I am being pushed into a leadership role, but when I take the reins, the rest of you go off on your own and mock my judgement. We cannot band together and function as a company if there is no honor. The ceaseless tongue-jabbing amongst ourselves and independent thinking will keep honor away like a fire in the night keeps away wild beasts. We’ll always just be dogs running in the shadows of wolves unless it stops.
“We must pick ourselves up and honor ourselves as a group. Kat’ral. To do that, we first learn to honor ourselves. Katorr. Just like the bards sing of the lost soul Yiemal, who could not love another until he learned to love himself, we cannot honor each other until we learn to honor ourselves.”