The Lion's Den, beneath Castle Loarre is a pompous name for a pompous place: It's the largest Tizonan mercenary camp North of Raven's Road, and current home to the Band of the Lion, the strongest mercenary army in the Free World. They serve Princess Beatrice of Land's End, one of the many heirs that now lay claim to the Raider's Crown of Marriott and Old Asterion.
We come here because we want to visit for people that you will, perhaps at some point, meet.
Two of them are the best friends you can buy for a coin, heavy drinkers, fast killers, and occasional philosophers. The fox-eyed Diestro is one of them, the bull-like Vasca, the other. We see them as they play cards, already tipsy at noon, again. And thoroughly bored with a life that for the last month has consisted mainly in waiting for the call to action.
They seem happpy together, but they are totally distant from one another, in the moment. You might believe that you have not seen to people playing cards against one another without being so utterly aware of their game partner.
If you get closer, you might overhear one of their many conversations that mainly consist of Diestro making fun of the more gullible Vasca, until that decisive point in the conversation when Vasca will throw his beer bottle after his friend. All in good jest, of course.
You might be reminded of another, rather famous pair of rogues, if you care listen to them closely:
"I don't believe in it anyway."
- "What? What this time?" And I don't have to tell you that Diestro groans; you can feel it from reading these words.
"Aspen. No place can be that vile."
- "Just another Dwarven conspiracy, then? This time invading the realm of cartography, maybe...?"
"Well, maybe, if that 'cartography' was hidden in your mothers'..."
...It's not a funny conversation to follow, for the considerate listener. But you get the point.
In another of the half-tent, half block-house building that dot the seaside hills of Loarre, dowses Diestro and Vasca's captain, Segundo. That's a common first name more down South, but in this case, it's not a name the man was given by birth.
Known to the people of Marriott as Secondchoice, for the lady he loved abandoned him for another man, he is Diestro's uncle, and perhaps Vasca's father. And he is regarded as the best duel fighter in all of Erle. That he has joined the cause of Princess Beatrice has been a decisive moment during her campaign to win the crown.
He's a man that knows his worth; his clothes are simple, but very expensive. His mustache is majestic. And his eyes are cold.
One more vision, before we leave for the past: Two men entering the princess' castle, one big, one small.
The big one is Thomas Locke, a scholar from the distant city of Gravesend. He is what the Dwarves, unimaginatively enough, call a man-servant: A man that serves a Dwarven family, as part of a lifelong bond.
His master walks beside him, a white-haired, yet beardless dwarf that goes by the name of Malagant. He, too, hails from the human kingdom Gravesend, but, in truth, he serves the lords of Zembla, a mighty Dwarven nation.
Malagant is an assassin, and he has come to Erle with one purpose only: To kill the woman they call "The Nightingale".
84 years before we may perhaps meet Diestro and Vasca.
One generation has passed since the Tempest destroyed Asterion, and the tragedies of the present have long become the woes of yesteryear.
The war in the North - and that is to mean, the entire Northern hemisphere, apparently - has come to an unexpected standstill in Erle:
After the disappearance of what is later going to be called their "Phantom Army" around Bald Mountain, the Dwarven invaders behave in a relatively tame fashion - even if Ramonder of Barr is still leading them. Devil's Garden becomes a natural frontier between Almace and Marriott, as brave little Caladan fends off one Dwarven skirmish after another. It's not quite a state of truce, and it's not quite a state of war. Men and Dwarves know both that they are enemies, now.
You only receive scarce news from other parts of the world, but you know that Angria - the Western province on the vast Eastern continent of Shahar - is lost. And you know, from the few ships that still travel South, that the Dwarves are bringing war to all countries East and West of Aspen, and of Greenwood. Whatever ultimately halts that expansion, no Southerner will ever be able to tell - but by 25 ALM the Dwarves halt their war efforts, presumably again to wait until the weakness of their enemies will favor them.
In the South, the Golden League remains relatively unfazed by the events North of the Erlenwood. The petty kings of the different dominions of Tizona have been at war with each other since the times of King Rain; and they very much seem intend on keeping to do so until the Shadow take the world.
Navas and Orision are too far to the North to be part of those petty wars; but the dangers to their economy are tangible even here. Tizona was stable with Asterion as a counterweight; as things are now, the passionate disorder of the Southerners is becoming self-destructive.
Your families are now divided between the city of Waymeet, and the castle of Way's End, which might sound more poetic a juxtaposition than it really is: Letters take a long time, and news of the world travel even slower. Asterion has not simply lost so much of its former glory; it has lost so many of its people that things that seemed natural, even common-sensical, like its postal and mail service. Entire countryside are devoid of any human life now, and the few men that still live outside the bigger cities... They make their own laws.
Imvaldr has become the ruler of the new barony that forms around Castle Way's End; a barony that, a hundred years ago, would have scarcely passed for a very minor knight's fief, but still, his own clean and well-lit place. When it becomes known that a man from Barr, a "Barrman", has joined the ranks of what nowadays passes as nobility within the borders of what now is called "The Shattered Kingdom", many people with Barr ancestry, or sailors stranded in Asterion in the chaotic years after the Tempest, travel to Castle Way's End to join him. Still not a large dominion, Way's End will do better in the upcomign years than many smaller holdings along the Raven's Road. The name, though, doesn't stick. A few drunken feasts of the Barrmen, and a few bad mistranslations later, Way's End becomes almost universally known as "Enveiskjoring" - meaning, literally, "One Way Street" in the Northern language.
Cullen and his family live a remote, but reasonably protected life under Imvaldr's watch. As a friend of the baron's family, Cullen is often called to the baron's council meetings, even though he does not formally carry any authority. In time, he becomes known as one of the baron's favorites, a title that doesn't bring him only friends. Dorothea and Timothy's life in Waymeet, however, is not as peaceful: Falstaff Tenement is not as exclusive a place to live, any more, as several of the former inhabitants have moved away, or simply died. Waymeet, in general, is suffering from overpopulation, as king Marc proves not be as apt a planner as his father was. The water is dirty, the food on the market is often bad or very expensive, and there are constant rumors of agents from the North committing simple, yet brutal acts of sabotage. There, cattle dies of poisoning; there, a girl goes out to buy groceries, and is never seen again afterwards. And it's always the Dwarves, if you listen to what the people tell you at the nightly fires inside the Tenement's rectangular yards.
Thomas has changed. Whoever he was thirty years ago, that man that traveled with Agnar and Hrothgir, that picture is vaning, as the Knight of the Shroud graduallym gets lost in his apparent agelessness. - You, his friends, know about it, perhaps, if you ever lifts the veil that he always wears to cover his sharp, cold face. He is a quicksilver-fast fighter, he is a calculating leader of men, and he is reportedly even proficient with the arts of the arcane. All that know him will, perhaps openly, perhaps behind his back, ask the same question: Is he Man, or is he Elf?
Thomas is one of the king's paladins, and the head of a knightly order. That protects him, for the moment. But his appearance as a public figure is starting to be increasingly problematic. He is an elf, people whisper, a servant of the Shadow. A creature of the Children. An acolyte of the Wishmaster. And his daughter...
Raven, and Draven, and Leabhar are names that are risky to be mentioned in public. Priests took them, people whisper. They were demon-worshippers, people murmur. She sold her kid to the Shadow, people hush. And there are those tales about a pale rider in a red cloak that haunts the villages at the borders of the Erlenwoo. Where are they, the ghoul is said to demand from those unfortunate enough to come in his path. And nobody but a few of you know the answer...
When Imvaldr took command of Way’s End it was a busy military supply depot geared for the campaign to clear the Raven’s Road, however that effort had largely been completed. As the military activity quieted down, the town appeared to be more of a frontier guard post. That soon began to change as the merchants who initially spent nearly a year on a round trip between Waymeet and Navas realized that they could trade with the other kingdom’s merchants as they passed them on the road. They realized that Way’s End, as the halfway point was the logical place to meet and trade their goods, so the markets of Way’s End quickly grew into a major concern.
Imvaldr suddenly found himself collecting large amounts of taxes on the trade for the kingdom (keeping his rightful share). He realized that the trade route was the lifeblood of the town and decided that he must do what he can to protect it. He decided to build waystations along the road at 10-15 mile intervals throughout the territory he was responsible for. He built six, one on the south side of town toward Navas and five on the north side toward Waymeet. These were fortified houses with a stable for the draft animals.
When one of the waystations was destroyed (along with the caravan that had stopped there for the night) it became apparent that they needed better protection. He posted half of a century at each waystations and had them build a moat and palisade that was a combination of earth (from the moat) and wooden walls, plus a barracks and for the second and fourth waystations going north, he made them larger to accommodate a tarmu of light cavalry (to patrol the roads between the waystations). Gradually the waystation fortifications have been rebuilt with masonry.
It was also necessary to build walls around the town itself. At first they also were wood, but now they two are masonry.
While Imvaldr is still a Tribune in the King’s army, commanding the 2nd cohort of the 2nd legion still based at Enveiskjoring, as it is now called. He has been hiring retiring veteran miles to serve as his personal troops. So far, he has two centuries of infantry, a half century of archers, a small tarmu of heavy cavalry and two small tarmu of light cavalry, for a total of about 300 men. He has also had his explorators exploring the forest to the east and west of Enveiskjoring, looking for dangerous creatures, unusual places or things and also resources that can be exploited for the benefit of the town and/or kingdom.
With Estrella Gaument nee Pendergil accepting Imvaldr’s proposal, he sent his heavy cavalry tarmu with a carriage to Waymeet to bring her to Castle Enveiskjoring. The 16 troopers are dressed in his colors, a black and white tabard with a large shield having his crest, a white field with a black cross have white stars in it and a red pilgrim’s cross in the upper right corner [see my avatar, note that the red dragon in chief on my personal shield is for the Ordo Fratrum Draconi, which doesn’t exist in the world of Meleon]. They created a little stir at Falstaff Tenement when they arrived to pick her up.
When Estrella arrives, she first informs him that her father's business holdings and lands (the lands being under a century long lease to the crown) belong to her younger brother, Adelard. She only manages these as the boy's legal guardian. The boy is now about eleven years old. She stops short of actually suggesting another arranged marriage, but the idea that young Adelard might be available for an engagement is implicit in the way she describes the property rights situation. Estrella isn't rich and makes no special attempt to disguise that. Her honor and the honor of her family comprise her most valuable legacy, as she puts it. She spent a good deal of her own money fighting the corrupt agents who mismanaged Waleran's estate after his death and who took advantage of her little brother. When speaking of the corrupt agents, and of the murders of her parents and youngest sister by brigands, her agreeable disposition shifts to a hardness and coldness that Imvladr would never have seen in her as a child. She accepts Imvaldr’s proposal after meeting him.
On the family side, Hildigard passed away early in year 33. Gunnleifr and Dianu have a daughter, Cieli, in year 34. They still live in Enveiskjoring. In Waymeet, Skjaldi and Lydia have a daughter, Systa, in year 33. Sigarr and Esmene have a daughter, Kalda, in year 34.
Greg Svenson, aka "The Great Svenny" Original Blackmoor Participant
Year 32 Thomas returns to Waymeet to be there for the birth of his grandchild. Thomas and Ashryn wait for the midwife to bring word of Olivia's birth. After a long night, the midwife finally emerges with a baby boy named Orym. 2 weeks later, Sarah and Agnetta give birth the same night. Agnetta gives birth to a girl, Ehrengard (meaning protected), and Alexios (meaning defender). The two children are presented as twins to everyone. Only the midwife, Angetta, Sarah, Arman, and Thomas know the truth.
Year 34 Thomas has taken to traveling the Raven road alone, fighting the fey forces. Once he thought he saw Raven in the distance, but by the time he got to where she was, she was gone.
In the 29th Year... Draven continues tutoring Raven in the magical arts, under Leabhar's guidance. Raven continues to chafe at Draven's reluctance to teach her runics related to Fire. She continues her own "independent study."
Year 30, Draven brings Raven along for the witchfire pilgrimage. The Spring Moot is a subdued affair this year -- the merchants and guards bristle at the trio of red and white-robed priests from Tizonia. They are most put out when Leabhar laughs at their insistence in opening a monastery along the Raven Road. "To counter the influence of the Children of the Many."
The Tizonian priests demand Leabhar be clapped in chains after she and Draven re-light the first Waypoint's lantern. The local guards refuse, and even draw their own steel when the Tizonian priest's enforcers attempt to take the red-haired young woman into custody. To avoid bloodshed, she surrenders herself, much to Draven's displeasure. He thinks Raven's clumsy attempts to console him nothing more than a schoolgirl's crush. Later that night, his refusal is more blunt.
Two weeks later, the caravans are attacked by marauding goblins. Leabhar incinerates their war-troll as it is about to cleave through the Tizonian enforcers' shield wall. The priests' spells are not so effective. Even though she just saved his life, the cardinal refuses her release. Three nights later, he changes his mind.
The return trip to Way's End is otherwise uneventful, though Raven is scarce, sharing only the briefest of greetings at meals before disappearing into the caravan. The Tizonian cardinal complains much of the trip of irritable bowels, blaming it on the bland food.
Year 31, another trio of priests arrive at Way's End, with a much larger enforcer contingent, and a writ of arrest for Leabhar and Draven, for the murder most foul of a cardinal by poisoning.
Draven, Leabhar, and Raven do not return from that day's tutelage in the woods. That evening, the fires in the hearths of Way's End go cold, flare up, and then sputter out. They return to normal the next day. Some weeks later, word reaches Thomas that Raven was spotted in Waymeet, at her sister's. Word comes again -- the news not so happy: Raven has disappeared, and taken Agetha with her.
From the Year 116: The Nightheart's Broken Splinter
Between the Dwarven dominion of Almace, and the toxic wasteland known as The Devil's Garden lies the Duchy of Caladan, the last remnant of the formerly glorious kingdom of Asterion. The only free sea port in the Southern hemisphere, Caladan is the center of all motions against the Dwarven Supremacy over Norran and Erle.
A very small center, but the center, still.
Tegea is an old town, the first major settlement East of Devil's Garden, and the first of only four in total that make for the former Duchy, and now Republic of Caladan. It's a farmer's town, yet one that is heavily guarded. It's a farmer's town, because the triangle between the Republic, the Dwarven Dominion, and the wasteland is not much traveled. Wanderers and pilgrims don't come along here, except in very small numbers; and less do merchants from abroad.
Castle Rotherwood stands halfway between Tegea and Caladan; one of the few remaining half-ruined structures outside the capital city that remain from the days of the Tempest. The Golden Knights have their home here, the knightly order that protects Caladan, from enemies from the outside, and from within.
Caladan, the city, was built into a seashore basin; houses are almost all with very flat roofs, and made of the grey breakage that the people either carve or simply collect from the shore side. In Caladan, tradition has it that people paint, or otherwise decorate their rooftops: If we look onto the city from the watchtowers that dot its wall, it's like we're looking on a tattered, but still very colorful minstrel's cape.
Why has Caladan withstood the Dwarven invasion? Why have the Dwarves never even attacked it? The reason is as simple as it might seem laughable to the modern man. Caladan is home not just to sailors and merchants; it is also home to a small, but increasingly well-known caste of priests. The acolytes of the Nightheart are world-famous seers, and oracles. The highest men and women of this order remove their own ears and eyes, as a symbolic gesture. Yet, they speak as if they could hear and see.
It is said that when the Dwarven Emperor send secret emissaries to demand Caladan's capitulation, over a hundred years ago, the priests of the Nightheart went before the city's secret council, and sent the Emperor a message of their own:
Caladan, and its environs would remain free, no matter what cost. If one soldier of the Supremacy entered Caladan with ill intent, the priests of the Nightheart would publicly the future date of the Emperor's eventual death. And they would disclose the name of the man that would kill him.
It is said that the Emperor laughed loudly at the priests' strange threat, and mocked them for their insolence. Yet, since that day, no soldiers have come to Caladan, and the small country is free of tribute.
When we leave Caladan, we come across a pensive man. Cassius Hawthorne, of the Hawthorne family. A scholar, a historian, and a geologist of no small renown. His coat is black, and strangely, the papers within the bundle of documents that he carries in his slender arms, seem to be, too. Cassius is a man of many secrets, and today, he is out to buy more of them.
In the backroom of the Red Baron's Inn, he meets a smaller figure, and one that we already know. The name of the man Cassius meets is Thomas Locke, and he serves the Dwarf that goes with the name of Malagant.
Cullen and Saldis continue to live comfortable, if busy lives. Cullen has to prove that his position is not his because of favouritism, or now because of family connections. However, in spite of his busy work schedule he and Saldis are very family oriented, and their delight in 33 when little Alice is born is a joy to behold. The two brothers are growing up, Stollen now beginning his apprenticeship as a carpenter while Agnarr is still being schooled. Agnarr's archery shows signs of his mother's skill, and there may possibly be a military career in the future - a long way off, of course. For now the boys are delighted at the birth of their sister.
Hrothgir finally retired from military activity in 32, aged 65. Enough was enough. Anna continued to grow more ethereal as each month passed, and his heart was troubled, knowing that someone so heart-breakingly beautiful could not be long for this world ... he was right, and in 33 Anna drifted into the next world while taking an afternoon nap.
In conversation with Cullen and Celia, Hrothgir decided to have Anna cremated, and undertook the journey back to Waymeet. Anna and Agnetta would lay together in the grove, together again at last.
Celia wanted to travel to see her big sister Dorothea once more, but with her young family that just wasn't possible. Rumours of conditions back in the city led to Artos forbidding her to take the children with her, and she wouldn't leave them behind, so Hrothgir travelled alone. But not alone, Anna's memory was with him, and always would be.
Dorothea and Timothy welcomed him with joy, although tinged with sadness at the passing of Anna. Together with James and Maria they held a poignant ceremony in the grove, laying Anna's ashes to rest. Hrothgir was glad the two youngsters knew the history of their family, and he spent some time telling them the stories firsthand, making sure the memory of the Red Man's wickedness would continue to inspire future generations to fight evil wherever it may be found.
After some time in Waymeet, greeting those old friends in the Tenement who still lived and sadly observing the deterioration of the city, Hrothgir headed off. Not back to Enveiskjoring "One Way Street" indeed! No, another way. The old hunter was still hale and hearty and he had a desire to see something more of the land before it was time to join Anna. Dorothea wept as she kissed the man she had come to know as father goodbye, fearing she would not see him again. Only time would tell ...
Anna 65 (died 33) Hrothgir 67 (out there, somewhere)
82 years before we may perhaps meet Cassius at the Red Baron's Inn.
Now a baron, Imvaldr lives the life of the priviledged, making his ancestors proud as the de-facto leader of a great community of Northerners, around a lonely fort along the Raven's Road, of all places. His connections to Waymeet begin to fade, as he and Estrella might well decide to move on, and not to bother with city intrigue, any more. Skjaldi's and Sigarr's families might well decide to follow him. Waymeet is a good place to live, still, and the old Falstaff Tenement certainly has become one of the city's best-regarded communities - but as the siblings get older, the center of the family might well move somewhere else. Meanwhile, Enveiskjoring is becoming a place of interest, on the road between old Asterion and Tizona - first, because of the unique, alien culture it represents to the Southerners, and second, because the cultural unity gives the Northern a certain stability,, within their community: Trade and stay here is easy, compared to the other, emerging station along the Raven's Road. The systems of waystations that Imvaldr has ordered to built becomes the model of how other communities along the trade route try to protect their territory. Thomas continues to serve as the head of his own knightly order; he, too, might not venture in Waymeet all that often, any more, and prefer the countryside to the loud, and evergrowing city. How he reacts to his daughters' second disappearance, and how Draven and Leabhar are involved, is not for me to detail. Cullenwill perhaps come to serve as Imvaldr's stewart in Einveiskjoring. His sons, however, might eye the bigger cities, though, and the prospect of excitement and adventure. Waymeet will surely be an option to them, but compared to the Asterion remnant, Tizona might be more attractive. If they had been in Waymeet when Anna died, he would probably have known what their grandfather would do - and held him back. - But as it is, Dorothea and Timothy learn from one of Thomas' knights, a few months later, that Hrothgir, a living legend to most foresters of Marriott, and universally well-known, passed aguards' post, on the way to the Erlenwood. The knight himself might not be sure where hte old man went from there. But he did not come back.
From year 35 to year 71 in the Chronicles of Almace
One generation will pass, and another will go by.
The next two turns in our world-building exercise will have to go differently than the last ones: Rather than explaining the story to you as part of a narrative, I'll simply give you a few hints, and let you work based on that; within good reason, you can go as creative as you like with that new material.
The following events are taking place within the lands of Erle - perhaps in the order I name them, perhaps in a different way, if it suits your stories.
The plague will break out in Waymeet, and kill many. The people of the city will suspect Dwarven saboteurs, and lynch a few foreigners. They will not find whoever might have been responsible; the outbreak sure will look suspicious enough, with only the city of Waymeet itself being affected.
King Marc will die (perhaps from the plague), and his son, Ysolder, will succeed him. Ysolder's reign will be short, too (how short, you may decide), and he will be succeeded by Cunomor, who is also the son of a Southern princess, and rules with the support of the Tizonan kingdoms. He will be king in 71 ALM.
The Dwarves of Almace continue their policy of slow advancement. They take over the town of Starkwall (which you might remember from the prologue), but do not venture further into "The Devil's Garden". From what you hear in the South, the Dwarves want to bring the old city of Asterion under their control, but, again, after the failure of the Phantom Army seem to calculate very carefully how to proceed. Starkwall becomes a garrison, and again, out of pure necessity, the few remaining souls within the scorched and haunted Devil's Garden gravitate towards it. Within a few years, Starkwall will be the only settlement of note between Marriott, Caladan, and whatever remains of Dace in the West.
The Dwarves send reinforcements and settlers from Norran, to make Almace (and the much smaller Thorran) a truly Dwarven country. And it's not the settlers that you'll come to dread: The Dwarven Emperor sends one of his legendary generals, the orc named Wrath, and a thousand of his red-skinned, pig-headed creatures, to his brother Ramunder's dispoal. These orcs, twice as powerful as normal soldiers, begin to roam the countryside East and South, hunting for whatever sort fey- or Elven-like creature they may fight. And once they find them, they kill them.
King Floro, the nominal king of the Golden League passes, and another Floro (XI) will succeed him. He marries his daughter to Ysolder, but otherwise, does little more of note: Tizona, and the Golden League remain locked in their own, perpetual petty wars, and their politics do not concern you - unless you want them to.
Navas, the realm on the Southern End of Raven's Road, will remain as stable as the trade route itself may: If things stay peaceful, a powerful Tizonan guild, The Guardians of the Sea, or rather, the owners of the lighthouses along the eastern shore of Erle, will take a special interest in all things concerning the Raven's Road: Let's just say that an increase of inland trade is not particularly in their strongest interest. The Guardians do honest business - but they won't hesitate to sink their opponents, if they find an opportunity. Literally sink them, even.
Two other castles along the Raven's Road will be built, or rather restored, like Way's End: Castle Hawthorne, and Castle Solace. Both, and that's the particularity about them, will be constructed with money from outside Marriot. Castle Hawthorne, as the name suggests, is built and managed by the wealthy Hawthorne family, from Caladan. Castle Solace, in turn, is run by mercenaries paid by merchants from Navas. Thus, the supernatural threats that traders face on the road from North to South will become smaller - but trade will become more contested and dangerous because of very human competition.
The kingdom of Marriott, and that is the decisive event of the next generation, will reorganize from the ashes of Old Asterion, as a much smaller dominion, with neglectable autonomy, and little remaining cultural connection to the ancient kingdom. It becomes, for better and for worse, a satellite state to Tizona, having no other friendly neighbors to speak of.
There are rumors of a man in a red cloak visiting both king Ysolder, and later king Cunomor. The same rumors tell that the kings stay up long during those nights, and that the lights from their study chambers can be seen burning until the edge of dawn. After a few years, those closer to the court will know, independently of any rumors regarding the man in red, that the kings have picked up their ancestors' fatal study of magic - the same magic that reportedly lead to the terrible Tempest.
It is during that time that a woman called The Nightingale is first spotted in the lands of Marriott, Loarre, and along the Raven's Road. A minstrel from the lands of the West, she is said to sing songs as old as time itself: In the tongue of Old Asterion. And in Elven. Soon, there is a price on her head.
All these years, the Forest Kingdom of the Erlenwood remains a quiet, green, and potentially deadly border to all dreams and aspirations of mankind. What happens in the shadow of those evergreen trees, no mortal man can tell. Just that many may enter. But will ever return.
48 ALM: Thomas accompanies Sarah, Agnetta, Ehren, and Alexios along with 10 of his knights to Caladan to see to the arranged marriage between Ehren and Bromm Bronzefall III, heir to a wealthy and powerful noble family. Along the way, their troop is attacked by a group of bandits. Three knights were lost in the battle and had it not been for Alexios, Ehren likely would have been taken as the bandits attempted to flee.
49 to 71 ALM: As the major battles of the Raven Road have diminished, Thomas begins traveling the land to establish a presence of the Knights of the Shroud in each of the major cities. The Knights grow from 300 to 1500 knights. The order takes on the task of battling the various bandit groups that plague the trade ways and lesser traveled paths. The Knights attempt to return stolen goods to those that lost them. If no one is able to collect the goods, all to often the case, the order uses the items to fill their coffers and support the order. The fame of the knights begins to grow, especially for Thomas who led many of the larger raids on the bandit kings. Bards sing many songs and tell many tales of his valor in defeating 1000 bandit kings, an obvious exaggeration, with his war hammer Omega.
65 ALM to 71 ALM: A beautiful woman roaming the land is often the subject of the dreams of Thomas' single male descendants. The memory of the woman soon fades away after waking. If the men were to share their dreams with each other, they would recognize it is the same woman and they dream of her on the same nights.
To be continued...
Last Edit: Feb 18, 2016 6:54:24 GMT -6 by eatonjar
Year 49: Misery strikes those living in Waymeet as a powerful plague ravages the city. The Irondust clan suffers great losses: Ashryn, Olivia, Syler, Ingred, Syler Jr., and Lyndwyn all die. Theron and Beyowin take in little Celia and raise her. Nobility and royals are not spared either. King Marc dies and days later the plague seems to clear up as suddenly as it started leading to rumors that the plague was a plot by the Dwarves to kill King Marc and weaken Waymeet. The army is put on high alert for an attack, but after months of no attack, the city slips back into daily life without fear of the Dwarves marching on the city in the immediate future.
Year 65: Rumors begin to spread of Red visiting Ysolder. Thomas requests a private audience with the King to discuss the rumors that Red has been visiting him. Their conversation becomes heated and the King threatens to reveal Thomas' elven heritage which would surely mean not only his death, but the death of his entire family line. Thomas encourages his entire family to leave the city as he remembers the Tempest and the destruction it wrought upon not only the King of Asterion, but those living in the city. Most of the family does, only Agnetta stays behind to be with Sarah and Arman. The rest of the family moves to Navas.
Last Edit: Feb 21, 2016 15:13:20 GMT -6 by eatonjar: Adding city name
Attacks against the Raven's Roadside waystations grew more frequent and the first year of Draven and Leabhar's disappearance, as the witchlights at the entrances began to fail, one after another, and Imvaldr invested much manpower in both re-fortifying the stations' defenses, as well as stepping up the patrols along the road.
Whatever peace Draven had brokered between the Men of Way's End and the spirits of the Erlenwood, with each passing year after the fili's disappearance, the truce crumbled further. Thomas and his Shrouded Knights bolstered Way's End's patrols, but their rune-inscribed weaponry, too, began to lose its effectiveness. Or rather, they became dangerous to use, requiring more and more of their wielders in order to function.
Other knights would report that the most ferocious of the forest's warbands would be led by a pale-faced young woman in a dark cloak bearing a gnarled staff of burnt ash decorated with fire-blackened knucklebones and black feathers.
One oddity along the road came to be known as The Sixth Keep, just outside the boundaries of Imvaidr's barony, the only waystation not to be restored by the 2nd Legion's engineers. Not entirely a ruin, the low stone outer wall remained intact, if not a bit overgrown by mosses and lichens. The wooden gates still stood, the runes burned into them still clear. The air around the place, though, bears an uncomfortable chill, even in the warmest times of the seasons. There are marks along the interior of the wall, darkened, speckled splashes and lines where the lichens do not grow. Likewise, the weeds that poke through the flagstones of the Via Praetoria: they suddenly brown and wither at a certain point, where the stone seems to've rippled and fused, taking on a glazed, glossy sheen.
Though the witchlights have gone out in all the waystations, the lantern of the Sixth Keep continues to burn. Some of the caravan masters make a habit to camp in and around the Sixth, as the monsters attack less frequently, if at all. They consider the place lucky, though the Tizonian priests decry it as cursed. But perhaps that is just because their campfires do not stay lit for very long, no matter how well tended. The priests soon learn to press on to the first of Imvaldr's fortified keeps.
Gossip picked up at the Einveiskjoring markets tells of a pale-faced young woman with dark hair and a ragged black cloak who sits at the fireside at one or another of the camps at the Sixth, asking about the goings on in Waymeet and Einveiskjoring, paying particular attention when the Shrouded Knights or the mysterious disappearance of the "druid of Way's End" are mentioned. Does she smile? Do her dark eyes stray towards the blasted section of the Via Praetoria?
There is never a sign of her when the camps break, just as there was never a sign of her before the fires were lit for the night....
Year 71 Over time the royal forces in the Erlenwood are gradually reduced to half, although, the forces at Enveiskjoring were not reduced because of it's strategic location. With the vacuum Imvaldr is forced to build four additional way station outposts in the direction of Waymeet (covering an additional 50 miles or so of the Raven’s Road). Much of the land immediately surrounding Enveiskjoring has been gradually cleared to make room for farms to feed the town and the royal garrison. The garrison of Enveiskjoring now includes one royal cohort and one local cohort, plus cavalry and some citizen’s militia.
The exploration of the forest has discovered a source of copper to the west of Enveiskjoring. A 13 mile road has been constructed to the site and a fort established there, similar to the waystations, to protect the miners. This has spawned local industry producing copper products for trade, helping Enveiskjoring to remain even economically despite losing trade to the competing trade posts. New niches have also opened up for merchants who buy at one trading post and sell at another – middle men.
Imvaldr was proud to be elevated to Baron and given full control of the whole area around Enveiskjoring as his Barony. He realized that it was a reward for the large trade revenues he has been providing for the kingdom and maintained his focus on keeping the trade routes safe. The locals refer to him their Jarl as the population of Barrmen in the area continues to grow.
Imvaldr and Estrella had a son, Jorulfr, in year 35. Lady Estrella died of the plague while visiting Waymeet to check on the management of Adelard’s estate, causing great mourning in Enveiskjoring. Imvaldr passed away at the ripe old age of 70, in year 63, leaving the Barony to his son, Kjarvalr.
Kjarvalr (now 59) and Ahmta had a daughter, Maria, in year 35 and a son, Arnbjorn, in year 43. Ahmta passed away at the age of 56 in year 71.
Maria (now 32) married Errin, a centurion based in Enveiskjoring, in 59. They have two boys ages 8 and 9. Errin has been promoted to the Seneschal for the Baron Kjarvalr’s estate.
Arnbjorn (age 28) is the heir to the Barony. He married Flora (Adelard’s daughter) in year 64. They now have a 1 year old daughter, Inga. Arnbjorn is currently the Tribune of the Baron’s cohort, learning the ropes of command in his father’s footsteps. Flora inherited the Pendergil estate
Jorulfr married Systa (another of Valka’s grandchildren) in year 52. They had two boys, Bergsvein (age 14) and Hoskuldr (age 12) and a girl, Hildi (age 10), before Jorulfr was killed fighting beasts of the forest in year 61.
Gunnleifr died at the age of 62 in year 71. In addition to their two daughters, he and Dianu had three more sons, however two of them died as children. Their oldest daughter, Gunnleif married Roem, a local craftsman, in year 53 but she died in year 59, leaving no children. Their next daughter, Ceili, married Vallo (Jorundr’s son) in year 50 and moved to Rumon. Their youngest, Gudbjorn, was born in year 45 and is now the royal tax collector at Enveiskjoring and the Baron’s bookkeeper. He married Isabela, the daughter of a merchant from Navas, in year 68.
Adelard was 18 years old at the time of his sister’s death and immediately moved back to the Falstaff Tenement. He married Skjaldi’s daughter, Sigga in year 46. They have three daughters. However, he passed away at the age of 45 (in year 67) and Sigga passed away in year 70 at the age of 53. The oldest daughter, Flora (age 24), inherited the estate after she married Arnbjorn (heir to the Barony of Enveiskjoring). Lizabeth (age 19), is married to a noble from Waymeet and is managing her sister’s estate their. The youngest, Tara (age 14), was sent to Enveiskjoring where Baron Kjarvalr has become her guardian.
In Waymeet, Skjaldi’s wife, Lydia, passed away in year 41 and he passed away five years later in year 46. Their sons, Garpr and Jofurr both died of the plague. Garpr’s wife, Nadesh, also passed away in the plague. They had no children. Jodis married Stollen in year 38 and moved to Enveiskjoring. Yri has not married, she works as a servant in a wealthy merchant’s home. Finally, Systa married Jorulfr in year 63 and moved to Enveiskjoring.
Valka’s son, Ubadai married Sheera in year 42, however, she died in the plague without having any children and he never remarried. He has focused on his business and lost contact with the family. Her second son, Khussan, married Qazia in year 42. She died from a rare disease in year 53. They had four children. The oldest, Sphix, died of the plague. Their daughter, Jezeri, was born in year 46 and married Sigarr’s son, Vakri, in year 62, but passed away in year 65.Horthgan was born in year 48 and was his father’s apprentice in their bakery until year 69 when he got ill and died. Their youngest daughter Kara, was born in year 49, she joined the royal army as a cook and managed to be assigned to the 2nd cohort of the 2nd legion stationed in Enveiskjoring, where she married Arnbjorn in year 64. Khussan moved to Rumon to be near his granddaughter, Anthea.
Sigarr and Esmene’s daughter, Jora, died of the plague as did Hjorleifr, their eldest son, after he joined the royal cavalry. With their children gone or moved away, they moved to Rumon to be near their son, Vakri’s family. Kalda married, Jorunder’s son Rumagh in year 50 and moved to Rumon. Vakri was born in year 38. He joined the royal army and serves as a decanus in the light cavalry stationed in Janina. He married Jezeri, Valka’s granddaughter, in year 62 and moved to Janina with him. They have an 8 year old daughter, Anthea. However, Jezeri died in year 65.
In Rumon Jorundr passed away in year 50 and his wife Arain died ten years later. Their oldest daughter, Vassilika married Stollen and Saldis’s son, Agnarr, and moved to Enveiskjoring. Vallo joined the navy and is now ship’s captain serving on the river mostly between Rumon and Janina. He married Gunnleifr’s daughter, Cieli, in year 50. They had a boy and three girls, but one of the girls got sick and died at the age of 12 in year 70. Rumagh was born in year 36. He works in the harbor at Rumon as a customs officer. He married Kalda (Sigarr’s daughter) in year 53. They have two boys and two girls. Jorundr and Arain’s youngest son, Niall, was born in year 38. He is a shipwright in Rumon. He is currently unmarried.
Greg Svenson, aka "The Great Svenny" Original Blackmoor Participant
(Enveiskjoring) Cullen never really recovered after Saldis passed away in year 66. She was 75, and a short illness took all the strength from her frail body. Broken-hearted he lasted another two years, and then slipped away in his sleep, aged 80.
Their oldest son Stollen married Jodis, the daughter of Skjaldi and Lydia in year 38 when she was 16. Some queried whether such young love could last, but last it did, with a strength that endures. They have three children, Martin, Torval and Rose, who despite the strenuous efforts of their parents have yet to find that special 'someone'. Stollen has continued as a carpenter, and is now as accomplished as his father every was, yet he seemingly has no desire to branch out more widely into the governance of other craftmen in the way his father did.
Stollen's brother Agnarr married Vassilika daughter of Jorundr and Arain in 48 when she was 20, and they have a young daughter Gertrude aged 11. Theirs is a quiet, peaceful family, and although Agnarr was clearly gifted with his mother's skill with the bow, he never sought high office in the military. He is retired from his position as a scout, although in an emergency any enemies would find that 'retired' is a relative term.
Cullen and Saldis' only daughter Alice married Matthias, the son of a merchant, in 55 when he was 23 and they have two children (so far), Christopher aged 12 and Belinda aged 8. The trading opportunities in Enveiskjoring have helped them to prosper, although Matthias prefers the smaller profit that comes from owning a shop to the greater but more risky rewards that come from travelling with the caravans. Now that the children are older Alice is able to help in the shop too, reducing the staffing overheads.
Celia, Hrothgir and Anna’s daughter had 45 years of blissful marriage to Artos. He took ill with a coughing sickness and passed away in year 69, leaving her distraught, but with the steel of her mother’s character evident she has not allowed his loss to destroy her own wellbeing. Her daughter Deborah married at 22 in year 48, but her husband Stefan died in year 52 in a riding accident, and she has brought up their son Johan (now 21) with the help of her parents and sister. Susanna has never married (not because of a lack of suitors) and works as a nurse attached to the military, serving either in Enveiskjoring or in a field hospital, depending on her deployment schedule. She has had a large input into Johan’s life, and it is quite likely he will look for her approval before asking a girl to marry him.
(Waymeet) In the year 57, Dorothea had a visit from a woodsman called Douglas, who brought news of her step father’s passing. It seems Hrothgir had taken up residence near the Erlenwood, and spent his declining years warning travellers not to enter the forest’s embrace. Those who heeded his advice can testify to the fact that none who ignored him returned to tell the tale, and a small band of hardy souls took up Hrothgir’s cause as their own, travelling from place to place along the edges of the forest, seeking to warn travellers of the danger. At 90 years of age the old man lost his final battle, with old age, and following his wishes Douglas brought his shroud-wrapped remains to be laid alongside that of his wife in the peaceful grove. He then returned to the edges of the forest, to continue in his self-imposed duty as a warden of the Erlenwood.
Having survived the plague, Dorothea and Timothy both fell victim to influenza in the year 67. Maria died in 68, never having married, having contracted a form of falling sickness and taking a tumble down a long flight of stone steps. James is now retired from the military, aged 50, and he and his wife Stella have a single daughter, Agnetta aged 13. Born the year after Hrothgir’s death the name seemed somehow … appropriate.
On their way to Navas, Thomas and his family stops in Enveiskjoring to visit the Baron and his family. While there, Celia meets Vellson and they are married a few months later. Thomas informs the Baron that they plan to head to Navas and works out a deal for the family to serve as the brokers in Navas for the copper trade in Tizona. Theron and Beyowin head up the operation. In a matter of just a few years,the Irondust family are quite wealthy.
Let's assume you traveled from the city of Almace to the Republic of Caladan, and let's assume you really, really lost your way, and ended South of the great city, and ended even South of Starkwall. Let's assume, for whatever crazy or stupid reason, you decide to travel not West, towards the No Man's Land that is the the Great Forest's long green border, but East, towards the sea.
That would be when you would come to the ruins of the old king's city, to the Devil's Garden, and to old Asterion.
Until this day, nobody knows exactly what it was that destroyed the Kingdom of Man, whether it was infamy, or the Hand of God.
And until this day, all efforts to win back the old country have failed, for reasons that remain diverse, but persistent.
After a day's journey to the East, the wild grass beneath your feet grows more scarcely, green dots among a brown and blackened soil. In distance, you might spot living things - or, things that move as if they had a soul. But you will not come near them, and they will retreat if they notice you.
It's through an alien land you travel, and, at night, the stars shine brighter than you have ever seen. As if old Asterion was closer to the sky.
If, without the possibility to gain more food and water, you make it to the seashore, still north of the Silent City, and of the scorched ruins of king Allwoe's palace, you will, perhaps find them:
The remains of nightly camps, of bones, and the rest of raw, red flesh. No fires, because you know they fear it, and no marks of tents, because they would not know how to build them.
And in the ground, hoof-like marks, twice the size of a normal oxen's foot. Pairs of two marks, of two strong, muscular, lean legs that carry their heavy bodies.
Broken bolts, and wood, and tree branches, or even scraps of old metal that they have forgotten along the way. Because they use them as their weapons.
That is when you have had the worst and most ill fate that the seers will say can befall a living man. That is when you have erred into the hunting ground of a tribe of Southron orcs.
From year 72 to the year 99 in the Chronicles of Almace
44 to 17 years before it gets pitch-black, and you are likely to be eaten by a grue.
Now is the time to set up the characters you plan to play in the more linear part of our game.
The last quarter of the first century after the fall of Asterion is a rather peaceful one - at least in terms of overall political stability.
In Almace, the Dwarven legate concentrates on interior policy, turning the former human society into a mirror image of the Northern culture around the centers of Dwarven civilisation, in Aspen and Greenwood: The Dwarves form the principal and most powerful caste inside the country; humans, and other races come after, with a distinction that only goes between potential soldiers, and other sorts of labor force.
At the time, the Dwarves emphasize border control - the "Iron Curtain" between Caladan, Almace, and the Devil's Garden becomes as impenetrable as its real-world counterpart. whoever dares to enter the Dwarven lands
Caladan, in the meantime, remains a lonely island inside a sea of enemies - figuratively speaking, of course, as its sea harbor is part of a thinning lifeline that keeps the city supplied with all necessary goods. When the Dwarves cut the Northern sea route from the human kingdoms in the East of Norran to the South around the year 85, it's the trade with the Golden League that keeps the small nation from falling into despair.
Overall, though, the dwarven policy of quietly driving their neighboring states into some sort of damaging isolation is effective, and exceptionally difficult to circumvent:
The Dwarves have, especially after the fall of Asterion, the more advanced society, and dispose of advanced technology in almost all areas of daily life. Being a second-class citizen in their lands becomes ever more attractive, as Marriott, and the other small states of the Asterion Remnant gain what promises to be their long-term identities: As small, rural conglomerates of backwood infrastructure and backwood living conditions. The Dwarves don't have to wage war against the people of the Old Kingdom; they can simply wait until they themselves choose to surrender themselves to slavery.
The camps of of refugees at the Northern border, waiting to be granted entrance, they are ever growing bigger.
Beneath the great natural barrier that the enchanted Forest is forming, the Golden League meanwhile serves as a counterweight to Dwarven ambition: It remains a wild country, and government is more of a theory than an application in practice, but its people are strong, and, so far, they are still fearless.
In between Almace and Tizona is Marriott, still strongest of the Asterion successor states. But times are changing.
King Cunomor dies, and is succeeded by second son, King Cylas, or Silas. Cylas, a mage-king like his father, installs a new order of knights, comparable to what dear Thomas did almost 90 years earlier; these knights, though, wear a red scarf, as opposed to the gray one of the Knights of the Shroud. They are skilled in basic magical disciplines, though they are more scholars than that they would be practitioners of the arcane arts.
Our friendly half-elf might find that moving beyond the Raven's Road, and with that, out of the realm of King Cylas, might have been good decision: Because, over time, the "red knights of Waymeet" become, as many had feared, a forced mainly occupied with the pursuit - and the punishment - of all non-human citizens in the country; inside Marriott's immediate borders, and beyond. Their goal might be, or have been, at some point, to fight back the evil spirits of the forest. what they are actually doing is to conduct blind witch hunts that never end quite as intended.
For the usual "changeling" the social climate in Tizona is also not what one would call "welcoming"; but given that Thomas is wealthy, and shortly after with a century of knights and other loyal followers, he and his family are largely left in peace. Thomas is even given a stately house to live in by the wise king Floro (the XIV, now) - a cottage near the village of Iscar on the Northern border of Navas.
The Raven's Road becomes a borderline between the free and the oppressed; and Way's End, the Barr community, and the other castles along the way, are right in between. After the plague depopulates great parts of the Asterion Remnant, they become small, autonomous pocket dominions on their on behalf. They still - nominally - owe fealty to the kings of Marriott, and Navas, but as those are too much otherwise occupied to care for anything else but the general flow of trade and commerce, the local barons begin to act as sovereigns of their own behalf. Kjarvalr was perhaps too much a Northerner to act in the petty ways of the decadent lords of Tizona, but that didn't change how people treated him, and acted towards him, as the lord of the most stable of all roadside baronies.
I'd like to think that Cullen is still alive around the turn of the century, the touch of the Elven magic, and of the elephant man Suru's spells perhaps having changed him. One of the oldest humans in the Known World, he will reside in Way's End, surrounded by a prosperous family that remains in service, and close personal relation to the baron's family. His younger offsprings might have closer ties to Tizona than they have to the Old Kingdom, and Marriott, though.
Finally, the branches of all families that remained in Waymeet might well continue to live in Falstaff Tenement - but the place has lost much sine Thomas' departure. They are living simple lifes, under the watchful eye of the new king and his authorities. Whitehorn the minotaur has long passed away, but the Whitehorn Brigade, another royal order under weapons, patrols the street with an efficiency that would sure make him proud. Two younger minotaurs enter the service of the king in the year 98, despite the harsh laws against non-humans. Their names are Nail and Scrapper.
During all this time, there's no track of Draven, and of Leabhar. They are, at this time, the subject of spine-chilling stories. The stories about them are surely grotesque, and sometimes absurd, but they surely are persistent.
It is uncertain precisely when the rumors of the silent, shambling dead spotted among the shadows along the fringe of the Raven's Road and the disappearances among the caravans began to coincide. A horse here, a mule there wandered off the Road, never to return. Likewise, the guard sent to look for them. Men made their signs against the Watching Evils, and the Tizonian priests said their prayers, each to similar effect, which is to say the disappearances did not stop, but the Men seemed to feel better, and that it would not happen to them. Not on this trip from Waymeet to the Golden League.
Some time around year 92, an entire caravan is attacked, its remains found scattered along a quarter mile of the Road, the horses and mules hacked to pieces, yet no sign of any of the Men, merchants, guards nor priests. At Way's End, there is a buzz in the marketplace, and several "antique" weapons -- short-spears and an officer's gladius -- turned up for sale in one of the smith's stalls. Such weapons were forged in the early-Mariott style, and Thomas recognizes them as being the forge-work of the First King. Which would mean that they could have only come from the First Legion's earliest days of conquering the Raven's Road.
Put to the question, the smith said he bought it from a merchant, who -- upon his return to Way's End from Navas is also questioned -- and he claimed to have found it among the wreckage of the Manless Caravan.
In Year 96, the night comes alive with white fire, as the gates of the Sixth Keep are rushed by a mob of skeletal warriors and gray-fleshed, empty-eyed merchants and their guards. Bones and flesh alike blacken under the lantern's witchfire glare, but the press is so great that the restless dead are able to overrun the waystation's gates. The screams of the encamped merchants do not persist overly long as the skeletal soldiers repeat the work they did in life: lift the blade, bring it down, turn to the next foe....
Riders returning to Way's End on the next morning's dawn recounted tales -- impossible, say the priests in residence -- of merchants, guards, and skeletons garbed in the Old Mariott livery scattered around the Sixth Keep's courtyard amidst the wreckage of a large encampment. At the gates, a sign of a great struggle, the churned-up mud baked and blasted amidst tatters of a dark cloak and a broken staff of blackened ash.
Other than the incredible tale of some battlefield of horrors, the soldiers bore a squalling babe-- the only survivor -- found sheltered beneath her mother's claw-rent corpse, huddled beneath the now-dark iron and brass lantern that once held the last lick of witchlight in the Erlenwood....
I'd like to think that Cullen is still alive around the turn of the century, the touch of the Elven magic, and of the elephant man Suru's spells perhaps having changed him. One of the oldest humans in the Known World, he will reside in Way's End, surrounded by a prosperous family that remains in service, and close personal relation to the baron's family. His younger offsprings might have closer ties to Tizona than they have to the Old Kingdom, and Marriott, though.
...But of course, that is not the case: Sleepy chroniclers like myself tend to embellish, or simply to overlook stories and things that they don't like.
Cullen's family, though, lives now mostly in the dominion around Castle Way's End, and enjoys the quiet pleasantries of the commoners' life in war-less times. The slow decay of the political structure within the kingdom of Marriott, at least in the lands controlled by the expatriates from Barr, proves to be a blessing in disguise, because the ecemonical situation here remains comparatively stable. Most of Cullen's offspring in the services of the Lords of Enveiskjoring have conventional, unperturbed careers under the royal tutelage.
Especially the military men might lean more towards the South, than to the North - quite simply, because the road there is more stable than the connection to the Northern territories, at this point, and because the nobles there pay with better coin.
The times remain - with the usual exceptions that occur in a medieval society - fairly peaceful, though; to find a war worth fighting in, Cullen's sons and grandsons would have to travel far. Very far. To Norran.
Year 99 Baron Kjarvalr passed away of natural causes at the age of 63 in year 75, shortly after the unexpected death of his eldest daughter, Maria. His son, Arnbjorn, became the new Baron at the age of 28. Arnbjorn and his wife, Flora, had a daughter, Malfrior born in year 73 and a son, Hariwolfar, born in year 77 and another daughter, Ranveg, who was born in year 86. They had another son who died from pneumonia as a boy.
With the relative peace and increased isolation and independence of Enveiskjoring, Baron Arnbjorn has focused his energy on fostering good relations with the leaders in Navas, Castle Hawthorn and Castle Solace and building the economy of Enveiskjoring and protecting the way stations that protect the trade route. He especially is supporting the new coppersmithing industry and related trade. He has also become a little bolder by knighting of leading figures in the Barony, including his uncle Errin, his son Hariwolfar and his cousins Elodan and Bergsvein.
The Barony has an army of two cohorts, two centuries of archers, twelve small tarmu of cavalry and some support elements who operate ballista, scorpio and other siege weapons used primarily to protect the castle. The 1st cohort is in Enveiskjoring, while the other protects the waystations and copper mine and is based out of a restored castle 50 miles north of Enveiskjoring. This castle is called Horgrborg by the Barrmen.
Each way station (Lundbygo) has been turned into a square shaped stone fort (similar to the mile forts built by the Romans along Hadrian’s Wall in northern Britain), with a gate where the Raven’s Road enters on one side and another where it exits on the other side. So the road literally passes thru them. Each has a barracks for about 100 men and stable space for about 30 animals. The kitchen and dining hall are across the courtyard. Supplies are stored in cellars under the buildings. The garrison of each is made up of 4 tent parties of miles (40 men) and 1 tent party of archers (10 men). Four tarmu (16 troopers) of light cavalry move among the way stations as they patrol the Raven’s Road by day. The way stations are in pairs with the Centurion in charge of one and the Optio in charge of the other. There are four way stations between Enveiskjoring and Horgrborg, four north of Horgrborg (toward Castle Hawthorn), one south of Enveiskjoring (toward Castle Solace) and one at the mining camp, now called Eirlandnam.
The intent being that caravans can stay within the way stations for the night as they travel. They are spaced so that it would be a day’s travel between each way station. The rest of the 2nd cohort (two centuries of miles, 5 tent parties of archers, a tarmu of heavy cavalry and a tarmu of light cavalry) make up a quick reaction force to respond the attacks and are based at Horgrborg.
Hariwolfar is the heir to the barony and is currently a tribune in charge of the Baron’s 1st cohort. Hariwolfar married Fjorleif, Gudbjorn & Isabela’s daughter, in year 97. They have an infant daughter, Ragnhilda, who was born in year 98.
Inga married Geirvaldr, Jorundr’s great grandson, in year 89 and moved to Rumon, where she died two years later without having any children.
Maria’s husband, Errin, has been made the Baron’s Seneschal, managing the general affairs of the Barony. Errin has decided to remain unattached and focus his energy on the welfare of the Barony.
Their son, Elodan, married Jorulfr & Systa’s daughter, Hildi, in year 80. They had a son, Estafan, in year 81; however, Hildi passed away in a tragic riding accident in year 84 and Elodan, who had become the tribune of the 2nd cohort, was killed fighting the undead denizens of the Erlenwood near Horgrborg along the Raven’s Road. Estafan is now a centurion in the garrison of Enveiskjoring.
Arnbjorn & Flora’s daughter, Malfrior, married Ylfinger, Gudbjorn & Isabela’s son, in year 91.
Systa, Jorulfr’s wife, passed away in year 99. Their son, Bergsvein, married Adelard & Sigga’s daughter, Tara, in year 77. Bergsvein is the tribune of the 2nd cohort of the Baron’s army, responsible for the safety of the waystations and copper mining camp. They have two sons, Notolfr, born in year 82, who is now a centurion in the 2nd cohort and Audvin was born in year 87. Bergsvein and his family have taken residence in Horgrborg.
Hoskuldr married Cullen & Saldis’ granddaughter, Belinda, in year 80. He was a centurion and was killed in fighting bandits along the Raven’s road in year 81, leaving his pregnant wife a widow. Their son was born in year 82.
Gunnleifr’s wife, Dianu, passed away of natural causes at the age of 66 in year 76. His widowed daughter, Cieli, caught a fatal disease and died at the age of 43, in year 77. His son-in-law, Roem, a retired centurion, died of natural causes at the age of 60 in year 84. Gunnleifr’s youngest son caught a fever and died as an adolescent, as well.
Gudbjorn was the Baron’s bookkeeper; however, he was murdered, actually poisoned, in year 76, at the age of 31. The culprit was never identified. He and his wife, Isabela, had four sons and a daughter before his untimely death; however, the first son died as an infant in year 74 and another died as a young boy. Ylfingr was born in year 75. He is the current bookkeeper for the Barony. He married Malfrior, Arnbjorn & Flora’s daughter, in year 91 and they have a son, Sveinbjorn, who was born in year 96. He is the first of baron Arnbjorn’s grandchildren.
Fjorleif was born in year 76. She married Hariwolfar, Arnbjorn & Flora’s son, in year 97.
Their youngest son, Landbjartr, was born in year 83. He has joined the army and is serving as an Optio in charge of a way station along the Raven’s Road as he learns the arts of war and leadership.
Last Edit: Feb 27, 2016 19:57:26 GMT -6 by gsvenson: Drop Errin marrying Belinda after Hpskuldr's death...
Greg Svenson, aka "The Great Svenny" Original Blackmoor Participant
(Enveiskjoring – Castle Way’s End) With the military situation quite peaceful, Cullen’s descendants thrive, as much as anyone can in these days. Illness and accidents can still take lives however, so not everyone lives to a grand old age ...
Cullen’s son Stollen is still with us, though more than a little frail at 79 years old. His wife Jodis passed away 5 years ago, not from anything in particular, just old age. It comes to us all, eventually. Martin took over his father’s carpentry business, and married Stella, a blacksmith’s daughter in year 76. They have one son, Cullen, who is 19 and learning the family trade. Martin’s brother Torval spent most of his military career as a member of a cavalry tarmu, patrolling Raven’s Road. Get a few drinks in him and he may show you some of his scars and tell you how he got them. He married in 74, but his wife Sara died only 2 years later in childbirth while he was out on patrol, and he has never remarried. To lose wife and baby so suddenly caused a deep wound in his psyche that time has so far not been able to heal. Martin and Torval’s sister Rose never married, although she never lacked for suitors. She seems to have been waiting for that special ‘someone’. Perhaps she has left it too late …
Cullen’s second son Agnarr passed away in year 94 aged 70, followed by his wife Vassilika 3 years later. Their daughter Gertrude married Arturos, a young officer, and they have two children, Owen (20) and Lydia (16).
Alice and Matthias passed over ownership of the shop and business to Christopher when they got too old to give them the time needed. They help out in the shop occasionally, as necessary, and love swapping yarns with long-time customers. Christopher married Daphne in year 79, and they have 3 children – Matthew (18), Joanna (16) and Douglas (14). Christopher’s sister Belinda (now 36) married Jorulfr and Systa’s son Hoskuldr in year 80. He was a centurion and was killed in fighting bandits along the Raven’s road the very next year, leaving Belinda pregnant and a widow. Their son (now 17) was born in year 82.
Celia, Hrothgir and Anna’s daughter, has reached the grand old age of 95. Her body is frail, she cannot walk on her own any more, but her mind is still as sharp as it ever was, and all the children of the family have had the stories of the Red Man repeated to them at regular intervals, along with the history of the escape from Asterion.
Her oldest daughter Deborah died 3 years ago, aged 70, but Susanna is still alive, watching over her nephew Johan and his family. With the worsening situation in Waymeet, and after James’ retirement from the military, Celia had written to her nephew urging him to relocate to Castle Way’s End. James and Stella sold up what remained of the family’s belongings in Falstaff Tenement and moved to join the rest of the family in year 76, when Agnetta was 18. Upon their arrival Johan was smitten with his beautiful cousin, and they were married two years later. James passed away in year 81 and Stella ten years later in 91.
Johan and Agnetta have four children, Kevin 19 and Dorothea 16 were born fairly soon after they were married, and then after a long gap Angela aged 6 and little James, only 3 years old but doted on by great-grandmother Celia and great-aunt Susanna. With the stories they can tell, along with those of his mother repeated to her by Dorothea, you can be sure that young James will grow up very aware of his family history ...
There is no shortage of orphans, at Way's End, or many of the other settlements along the Raven's Road. Way's End is fortunate, to have many families well off enough to be able to take in another mouth to feed. The foundling from the Sixth Keep passed through nearly every household willing to foster another of the Road's motherless. She would not settle. She was too fussy. She couldn't keep anything down. She was too messy. She demanded too much attention. She wouldn't mind. She wouldn't share. She bites. She kicks. She wasn't spared at the keep-- she fought them all off by herself, more than one of the men of the foster families was heard to say in the drinking halls. Twice the trouble on two legs.
There wasn't anything left to do. She'd have to go to the nunnery. Let her try the patience of the Tizonians and their gods.
76 ALM: Thomas and 10 of his knights were patrolling the Raven's Road when several fey attacked from the edge of the forest. The well trained knights were easily able to dispatch the fey warriors, but then their commander stepped out, a forest giant. Three of the Knights of the Shroud were killed by the giant's large club, but the giant has taken severe damage. The battle seems to start going well for the Knights, their sheer numbers seem to be overpowering the giant, but then one of the Knights bursts into flame. Thomas peers around looking for the source of the flames, expecting to see Red, instead he spots a beautiful woman. Raven stands there with a confident smile on her face. Thomas backs away from the battle with the giant and casts a spell. Omega lights up with holy light and Thomas charges Raven. Crystals of ice form in front of Thomas and several pierce his armor and body, stalling his charge. Two more Knights fall to the giant. Thomas brings up another spell to protect him against evil as he continues his approach towards Raven. Raven laughs, you will not stop me father and begins to cast another spell. Thomas counters the spell as he gets closer. The last of the Knights falls to the giant. As the last night falls, the giant pulls a large potion from his belt and drinks it. His wounds begin to heal as he makes his way over to Thomas. Thomas is forced to divert his attention to the giant as the large club swings his way. Thomas strikes the giant against the knee, shattering the bones. A lightning bolt strikes Thomas in the back, sending him flying forward, landing on his face. Thomas rolls over just as the club of the giant slams down, barely missing him. Badly hurt, Thomas swings him hammer at the giants other knee, just as the club slams against him, sending him flying. Raven sends several magical bolts into Thomas' body. The giant falls, unable to stand on two broke legs. Thomas struggles to stand, grabbing his Omega in a overhand double grip as he flings the war hammer at Raven. Unprepared by such a tactic, Raven is unable to dodge the attack. The hammer slams into her, and she lands on the ground, unmoving and Thomas loses consciousness.
Unsure how long later, Thomas wakes up in the 6th way station to the sound of a woman singing a language he does not understand, but the words strangely resonate deep in his soul. His wounds bandaged and a beautiful woman sits across from him. "You have been unconscious for 3 days. It is good to see you awake." As Thomas sits there wondering how it could have been three days, he remembers the battle with Raven and her death. "How did I come to be here?" The woman responds, "I found you along the road and brought you here." As Thomas gets a better look at the woman across from him, she seems familiar and then he realizes he has had visions of her for several years in his restful meditations. Thomas feels drawn to her in a way he has not experienced since he entered the elven city. He feels a comfort, a belonging. He asks, "What is your name?" The beautiful yet powerful looking woman replies "You have probably heard me referred to as The Nightingale." She smiles and Thomas' heard skips a beat. Over the next several weeks, Nightingale tends to Thomas' wounds. Oddly, no one else stops by the way station during that time. It is just Thomas and Nightingale. Later, Thomas will hear that caravans that normally stop at the way station simply kept on going without any explanation of why they didn't stop. Thomas enjoys his time alone with Nightingale, spending hours talking and getting to know each other.
Once recovered enough to travel, they make the long trip to Navas together. With each passing day, Thomas gets stronger, but is still not at full strength even after healing himself daily. Once they arrive in Navas, Thomas leads Nightingale to his villa. They spend the night together as a final culmination of their growing love and respect for each other. However, in the morning Nightingale is gone, all that is left is a note saying "We will meet again my love." As Thomas reflects on the note, he thinks he should be sad, but he isn't. Somehow he knew that their first meeting would end this way.
77 ALM - 96 ALM: Over the next 19 years, Thomas and Nightingale cross paths along the road too many times to count. The two travel together for a time and then separate when it is time for their paths to once again go their own direction. Late in the year of 96 ALM Thomas and Nightingale meet once again as she knocks upon his front door. While their encounters traditionally have always been on the road, this was the first time she had ever sought him out. From the outside, this encounter seems similar to their previous ones, but something felt different to Thomas, but he is unable to place his finger on it. Nightingale spent the next month with Thomas. Thomas could often hear her speaking the language he did not understand, but had learned was elvish before, during, and after their love making. Whatever the words were, their love making was heightened and filled with greater need and pleasure. Thomas was confused by why she had never used such words before. One day he asked her. She cryptically replied "The words spoken created a greater bond between us, the time is right for such a bond, it was not before." Thomas tries to press her for an explanation, but she simply responds "you will see in the years to come." The next day, she is gone once again.
97 ALM - 99 ALM: Thomas does not see Nightgale over this time, but he has visions of her periodically during his nightly meditations. She carries a small child with her. As time passes, Thomas is able to see that the child is a boy. He hears that they converse in elven and common equally well, but they primarily speak elven to each other. The boys name is Glordir.
If I could write like this, I wouldn't be running PBP games, but compete for the Nobel Prize, every year. The ebook I took this poem from is free.
The night weighs on the eyelids Sleepiness flickers and teases The foe hides The fife snarls Lost And All spaces Shiver Wrinkled Small.
Back to the year 103
13 years before you perhaps enter the Forest Kingdom, one more time.
Marriott, the kingdom, and its adjacent dominions, remain in peace - but the times are getting harder for the common people than like things used to be. King Cylas is old now, old, and blind, and the court is run by those who once were his favorites, and are now a strange sort of keepers to his golden cage.
Waymeet, the city, suffers from the corruption and the rivalry that the local nobles now fight out in the open. The city's mayor, the king's son, is young enough to still be overruled by the local noblemen. He may be backed by the king's personal guard - the Red Knights; still, even so, people doubt that he will one day wear the crown.
Tizona, and Almace, largely unchanged in their attitude towards the fallen kingdom of Man; the remnants of Asterion have long lost all sort of global political significance. Whatever these countries seek from Marriott, they take.
Baron Arnbjorn proves a steady ruler, like his father and grandfather before him; Way's End is almost pure Barr country now, an anachronistic Northern enclave in between two kingdoms. Johan and Agnetta continue to live there, in the same quiet comfort that the remote barony may provide. Bad news come both from the North, and South, though. The world is turning with the century.
Inside a small nunnery in Navas' neighboring province of Orision, a small girl grows, under the firm and knowing tutelage of holy women.
A full lord of Navas, now, Thomas has his knightly order submit to the nominal command of good King Floro. While his own activities may center around the Raven's Road, the knights are lately more involved with the king's - or, rather, the emperor's - attempts to call his local lords to reason.
One of the most inconsequential, but also one of the most disturbing threats to peace inside the Golden League is a new cult - the so-called "Church of the Voice", or, as local people prefer to call them, for their praying practice -, "The Firedancers". Their prophets - usually, the local, good-for-thing tavern-jokes - claim to have been visited in their dreams, by the spirits of "The Elder Kings": Which is to mean, virtually about every historical figure known to Man that has a good story attached to it, from King Rain and King Raven to ancient kings from Shahar, and even from the black kingdoms that ruled Ifriq in ages past.
The mission the prophets proclaim to their followers are, predictably enough, mostly acts of defiance against the local authorities, and the king of Tizona is not willing to let that stand.
The Chuch of the Voice gains more momentum than most other cults, though, and that has the grave and serious clerics of the Lonely God, and other, higher deities, slightly worried:
From the time of "The Darkening of the World" to present day, several entities, good and bad, have manifested themselves in the dreams of Man before they entered this world. As only man has the capacity to sleep, and to dream, at the same time. Whatever this new, shadowy voice may be that whispers in people's dreams, whether it's real, or whether it is not, the priesthood is not welcoming of it, as it may be a sign that times are changing.
By winter of 103, the first Firedancers can be seen traveling along the Raven's Road, easily recognizable for the colorful rainbow-like body paint they use.
They pass Way's End without causing any trouble. By winter solstice, there's a first Firedance just outside of Marriott.
With the general decline in sea trade for the Kingdom of Marriot due to competition with the Tizonian trading guild, the navy and shipbuilding industries in Rumon are in a general decline. Some of the decedents of Jorundr, Skjaldi, Sigarr and Valka who were living there and in Waymeet have migrated to Enveiskjoring and Horgrborg where the men are generally working as carpenters and lumberjacks or have joined the army.
Farms are starting to appear along the Raven’s Road near the Barony’s way stations and, especially, around Horgrborg, in addition to the land clearing and growth of farms that has been happening around Enveiskjoring.
Errin, the Baron’s Seneschal for many years, passed away in year 102. His position was offered to Johan.
Nottolfr (Bergsvein & Tara’s son) married Ranveg (Hariwolfr’s sister) in year 102. They have a newborn daughter, Oddrun. Audvin (Nottolfr’s brother) married Vigdis (both Jorundr and Sigarr’s great granddaughter) also in year 102.
Arnbjorn’s wife, Flora (head of the Pendergil family) has opened a brewery in Enveiskjoring, drawing on the experience and workers from her brewery in Waymeet.
Sveinbjorn is now 7 years old. Life in the castle is good for the boy. His father, Ylfingr, is teaching him weapon skills, swimming and riding. He has a tutor teaching him his letters and numbers. His mother is working on his grooming and teaching him to play a musical instrument, the mandolin. For dancing lessons he has been paired with a cousin who recently arrived from Rumon named Nanna and Ragnhilda (both are now 5 years old). Nanna’s grandfather, Severus (Jorundr’s grandson), has been made the Prefectus Fabrorum for the Baron’s army. Sveinbjorn also now has a little brother, Byleistr, who is 3 years old.
Ragnhilda is learning good grooming along with starting to learn her numbers and letters. She is also enjoying learning to ride, dance and swim. She has a little brother now, Valdrikr, who is in line to be Baron after his father, Hariwolfar. He is just 1 year old.
Last Edit: Mar 3, 2016 17:14:35 GMT -6 by gsvenson
Greg Svenson, aka "The Great Svenny" Original Blackmoor Participant
Year 103 (concentrating mostly on one branch of the family from now on, although the others may be mentioned from time to time)
In the last few years Celia’s eyesight has faded badly, and without her family to help she would be completely bedridden. Susanna is able to do much of the daily caring, but Agnetta has been helping with the cooking and spends time sitting with Celia and listening to her stories whilst knitting clothes for her growing family.
In 102 Johan was offered the position as the Baron’s Seneschal after Errin passed away. He accepted, and with the continuing growth of Enveiskjoring there is never enough time in his day.
Kevin married Beatrice in 101 and they have a daughter, Bonnie, who has just celebrated her first birthday. Dorothea has caught the eye of more than one young man, but does not seem to be ready to settle down yet. Angela and James are growing older, but at the moment have few thoughts of the world beyond their home. The stories he is hearing at bedtimes and when he visits his great-grandmother have started to turn young James' thoughts to heroic deeds, however – perhaps a sign of things to come?
The foundling girl grows, under watchful and wary eyes of the abbess and a couple of the local priests. They know the stories, have seen the same eyes in the portrait that hangs behind the black cloth in the cardinal's study. Green, flecked with gold. Rather than a head of fiery hair, though, the foundling's is the reddish-brown of polished mahogany, with a lock above her left brow of silvery-white.
More than one of the other girls got a bruised arm or leg from making fun of little Cailín's "witch's mark." This earned Cailín several days in the Penitents' Cell, and the other girls got a tongue-lashing about repeating what they'd heard in the abbess' personal quarters.
Taken on a late run to the markets, little Cailín is curious about the gathering on the south side of the market, and slips free of the nuns to watch the spectacle: garishly-painted men and women -- some wearing only a bangle or bracelet around ankle or wrist -- dance around a growing bonfire. The man in the similarly-painted robes' words are lost to her, as is the flash of firelight off gold or silver jewelry or a sweaty arm or back.
Little Cailín watches the fire. Listens to it, for it speaks to her, showing her images: A tall man in a cape of ragged, red flames, with eyes like embers; a small woman with hair of reddish flame, gowned in fire, wielding a sword like a lick of white flame; the flames parting just then let her see a man's shape in the blackening wood.
The woman, she knows. Her first and strongest memory, the last thing she sees before she falls asleep-- terrible in the fury she unleashed to keep the woman and her child safe under the glare of the Sixth Keep's witchlight lantern, gentle and beautiful in humming the lullaby to soothe away the terrors of that night....
Her disappearance earns Cailín a dozen lashes, and three days in the Penitents' Cell.
Some time after the second night, when the priests' watch changes, Cailín slips the manacles, makes her way through the abbey and over its wall, slipping amidst the small troupe leaving Orision, bound for ways north, along the famously-haunted Raven's Road. Another child among the following families is not noticed, nor is her absence when the troupe of firedancers leave Way's End.
The torches lining the town that had sprung up around the keep had spoken, and Cailín listened as they and the next along the streets hissed and popped. At times, it was a candle in a window, so quiet she could not hear it, but waving her along nonetheless. Here. This way. Next right. Ahead. Up!
She was a bright enough student at the abbey. The nuns taught her the letters, and they were the same in Mariott as they were for Tizonia, though the words were shaped strangely. The torches did not follow where they led her. The bustle of the town and keep around her likewise retreated from the small doorway. Age and weather had darkened the wood, worn away most of the paint. Still, there was enough left that Cailín could make out the bottom half of the mark no doubt some visiting priest had made. She'd seen the same mark, carved into her desk in the schooling room.
Not like this time, she found the sight of the mark comforting. She did not glance this way or that before reaching up to work the door's latch. This would be a safe place to stay. Nobody would find her, to tease her, to make fun of her, to pull her white lock of hair. No priests would try to cut it off while reciting empty prayers.
The door squealed as it shut behind her, and though an age of dust covered everything, the hearth was warm. The coals leapt to a low blaze, and the chill bled away to the corners of the small front room. Cailín pulled a tarp from one of the pieces of furniture, coughing and sneezing in the ensuing flurry of dust. She wrapped herself up in the cloth, settling on her side before the hearth, and fell asleep to the fire's lullaby...
102 ALM: It has been 5 years since Thomas has last seen Nightingale, but in the spring of 102 ALM, she shows up at his door with a small child. After spending some time together she says "I am sorry I have been gone so long and kept your son from you, but I tried to show you him in your meditations when I could. The time was not right for me to give him up, I had too much to teach him, but now it is time for him to learn lessons from you. I will continue to guide him in his dreams. I have already taught him the basics of elven magic, but he will need a place to practice his movements. He will not be able to cast spells without a spell book so you need not worry about his abilities being discovered. There will come a time in the future in which he will procure his own spell book. I bring him to you now, in order to train him in he ways of combat. He will need to learn the balance of both in order to face the challenges ahead." Thomas sits and listens "I will do as you ask, but why don't you stay and raise him with me as my wife?" Thomas' words seem to strike a chord deep inside her and for the first time since Thomas has ever known her, Nightingale sheds a tear. She replies "I can stay with you and Glordir for a time, but then I must move on." She pauses and smiles at Thomas and it warms his heart "However, there should be enough time to bind us together in marriage." Another tear rests on her opposite cheek, this one shed out of happiness. She reaches into a pouch in her jacket and pulls out two vials. She then collects both tears into the vials. Thomas things this behavior odd, but makes no comment. They then embrace, giving each other a kiss. Thomas then calls out to one of his servants, "please watch the boy and have someone go into town to buy some items for his room." After informing another servant to go to town, the first servant begins to play with the boy as Thomas and Nightingale slip upstairs to his room to celebrate their engagement.
In the Winter of 102 ALM, Thomas and Nightingale have a very small gathering of friends and family to celebrate their wedding. King Floro is there along with Baron Arnbjorn and his seneschal Johan and their families. The wedding is short, but beautiful. Svenbjorn and Glordir become fast friends during the brief time that the Baron is in Navas. Over the coming years, that friendship grows stronger as Thomas and Glordir make yearly visits to Enveiskjoring.
103 ALM: Two months after their wedding Nightingale informs Thomas she must leave. It saddens him, but he understands that she cannot stay.
Thomas begins teaching Glordir how to fight with a sword. When not training with a sword or playing with some of the other children, Glordir practices the movements his mother taught him.
Y.103-105 ALM Cailín's first couple years in the Way's End township are tough. The merchants talk is all about the competition with Hawthorne and Solace. They are extra watchful of their goods. The locals are somewhat more lax. Her fingers are usually quick enough, and when they aren't, her feet are. The Guard's irregular patrols do not make things easy, but thanks to them, Cailín learns most of the streets, alleyways, and shortcuts between the two. She takes to spending the early afternoons foraging along the fringes of the forest. Late afternoons, she reserves for laying atop the roof of one of the big merchant's warehouses that overlooks the main Keep's training yard. The swordplay does not interest her so much as the spearmen's exercises. She watches their forms intently, repeating them in solitude outside her nest in the abandoned witch's quarters by the North rampart.
Making friends is difficult. Those that aren't chased away by the Guard grow distrustful once she lowers the hood of her ragged gray cloak, revealing the stark white lock of hair at her brow. The children of Way's End are no different than those of the Tizonian orphanage in their suspicion and cruelty... There is one man, though, at the baker's stall in the eastern market, stooped and balding, his hands and arms always covered in flour. He at least shows some kindness, giving her an entire sweet bun for a song at the end of the bakery's business in the eastern market. "Just a handful of crumbs for a pretty little Wren and her song," he'd chuckle.