1600 Born in Lagerwater, Far Point. Ingard Mannison, Tresdarni clan, Twin Birch bloodline.
1611 Many Tresdarni thanes and all the vingans lost at Gamla’s Leap
1613 Most remaining Tresdarni thanes lost in Starbrow's rebellion.
1614 Initiated to Humakt and Kargan at War Temple in Alduchur. Sponsored by Broddi Clapsaddle.
1615 Ambushed in Bagnot on way to join Exiles. Now a slave, he is trained as a gladiator in Furthest Arena
1616 Fights for his life to entertain the masses. Growing reputation, dubbed 'Shanasee' in local Dart War
1617 Cut down in spectacular set piece battle, left for dead but saved by Exiles. Wanders Dragon Pass, lost and beseiged by black portents.
1618 Nochet and meets Yrsga. Follows voice to Arstola Forest. Gifted Luck Fighting Darkness and Certamus Tears by Aldryami.
1619 Learns of Kzgarn Barefang, a infamous Zorak Zorani Death Lord. Stalk Dragon Pass vowing to slay the Uz. Saves Korol-No-Saddle
1620 Dreams call him to Pavis. Meets strange Kralorean Sensai. Gifted Dragon Blade and draconic insight.
1621 Portents send him to Tourney's Altar and the Legion.

The Tarsh I want to remember is a proud and independent kingdom. A land of fertile rolling plains, gentle valleys, hills and high clear mountains. We would prosper under royal guidance and perform honest worship of Earth and Storm. I would not be a jaded and battle weary killer but a young and just warrior from Far Point sired from Tovtaros stock. I would be brave and honourable, wielding death to those deserving, a precise instrument of death directed by Kargan and Humakt himself.

The rot had set into Tarsh many years ago. She came with open hands of friendship, symbols peace and understanding doctrine. It was all a sham. She is the master of deceit, riddled with chaos yet smiling with serenity. The kingdom is blind to it and she worms further towards our hearts. The land of my ancestors but a gaudy reflection of this blasphemous 'lunar way'. That bloated moon hanging ever presence in the Tarsh sky. Chaos loving stooges sitting on the throne. Our long and proud history ground into the dirt. Even the Earthshaker seems quiet these days. People say we are a spent force, we should resign ourselves to a life of servitude and bondage.

In the beginning I was so keen to live the life of a warrior. So very young, so arrogant and so boastful. Too quick to sever the generations of my bloodline, the name of my birth; Ingard Mannison lost to the clan forever. The tula a distant memory, now I heed the call of death, the call to arms. Now wise with the first revelations of Kargan I speed to Bagnot, to support the Exiles, to fight for the kingdom that was!

I never had a chance, caught on the road before taking a step in the city. Full of talk and trust was the trader. No sooner out of my sight, I am reported to his ‘friends’, the local lunar authorities. They spy and they cheat, always deceitful and ever watchful. Ambushed and beaten near death.

I am transported in chains by wagon train to Furthest.

The young and proud Tarshite warrior made excellent sport at the Darts Wars and at their bloodthirsty gladiatorial arena. Better still, I was a follower of Kargan, a Humakti, well versed in bloody battle. Every day I follow the teachings of Kargan, I fight with strength and honour. Few good Orlanthi oppose me in this arena, this circle of death. These I dispatch with a heavy heart. They deserve a better ending than this arena, but they are men and die with honour. The rest of them are common slurry; bandits, thieves and blaggards.

They have no honour, they die.

Weeks blur into seasons. Dark are these days, maimed corpses now my only companions. They grin at me always, dressed in their shining coats of gore. Often I look up at my ‘king’; a bloated fop surrounded his fawning lackeys. They mock me, but find my fate amusing so I live another day. This cannot be the way it was meant to be lord? Surely I have passed your tests? Falling to my knees I pray for strength. My resolve wavers, I dream of ending it.

A death without honour, but and ending none the less.

I have provided good sport for the passing seasons. Now they tire of my presence, I am no longer entertaining. A sense of foreboding pervades the arena today. Ravens gather on a nearby balcony and squawk their welcome. A chilling northerly wind blows up dust all about then swirls off into the stands. The crowd hush, expectantly they look on. Looking about I stand with a number of men: cutthroats, drunkards, farmers or simple clansmen by their looks. These are not men of war, I smell fear running down a leg and pool on the blood soaked earth. It is right they should be afraid as we face hardened warriors and chariot mounted archers.

There will be only one outcome this day.

The arena explodes with noise, the crowd roar, it is begun. I fight with Kargan in my heart and Humakt in my hand. Emboldened am I in the presence of death. Without fear I stride through my enemies, there's will be a true death. Humakt is with me now; my time is close at hand.

The fury takes me and I am lost.

There are too many and they are too strong. Yet I die with honour this day. Slumping to the ground I am glad for this ending. It becomes dark. I wait for my lord...

But the blackness recedes, vision blurred. I manage to focus on the face of an angel, no a young women, dressed in white. A healer of Arroin! The air is clean and fresh, a cool breeze brushes against my face, the smell of summer in the air. Pain wracks my body as I try to sit up, the blackness returns...

I lived, although near to dying on the floor of the arena. Thrown amongst a pile of corpses to be made ready for burial I was found alive. By luck the earth women was a sympathiser and held my condition in check. She soon contacted the local rebels and I was taken from Furthest to the nearby foothills.

My recovery was made with the help of the Exile’s healers. Fit and well these rebels are expectant, a new Kargan recruit; a fresh sword for the fight. The thought of joining a rebellion was the only thing on my mind during the my initiation those seasons ago. Now the thought of more slaying turns my stomach. I say my farewells before leaving, hardest to the young Arroin woman. Guilt again, but this time I can cure.

I promise these Exiles that I will return with good men to aid their cause.

Now I know not where to go from Furthest, many paths lead from here, there destinations unknown. My mind still numb from relentless slaughter, fractured senses slowly reforming. On an ancient windswept Tor deep within Dragon Pass I pause for sleep. I am exhausted yet strange portents and omens assault my sleep.

It is Kargan, he is with me again, and he shows what may come to pass

Lush green forests teeming with strange and wonderful creatures. A road to a huge city by the sea; it is Nochet. A journey through the broad fields of Esrolia. A verdant forest. There are many tall plant like men. They are adorned with odd armour made of copper leaves and duel with exceptional speed and skill with spears and swords made of the same. They are the Aldryami and I am their sword brother but known by another name.

It is deepest night, the air is still. Heavily wooded forest all around but for a moonlit river nearby. The Aldryami are here, all is still, and they are hidden from sight. Suddenly an explosion of noise as huge lead clad Uz crash through the foliage. They bellow and roar, rending and tearing all before them. The elves fight valiantly but are beaten by lead and fire. The battle is over quickly for them. The Death Lord, wreathed in fire, roars a command. The Uz fall to the ground and begin eating my elven brothers. As bone cracks and flesh tears there is screaming, some of the fallen are not yet dead. These are not warriors but base animals of darkness, they have no honour, and they will die by my sword, this I swear.

An ancient and foreign man smokes a thin pipe which fills the room with sweet smelling smoke. He is robed in red and sits upon fine rich cloths. He speaks in tongues but I know his words like my fathers. He is a mystic and tells of his homeland: Kralorea. It is a distant place of dragons only reached from the sea. His home is now an oasis in the desert, surrounded by rubble, yet full of promise. He knows my heart; I am a servant of conflict. The mystic gestures to what looks like some nightmare instrument of torture. Yet to his mind it could not a faulted, a perfect union of sword, spear, staff and trident. The perfect weapon; it slides into my grip as he tells me it was made for one such as me - a warrior born from conflict. It weighs so little and flashes with brilliance even in the low light of the room. Inscribed down the blade are runic carvings of seven dragons entwined in ferocious combat. I know its name now and the names of the mighty wyrms that are carved. I must meditate on these dragons; to understand their conflict is to understand the art of war.

There are a thousand battle worn of soldiers, sword brothers and sisters all. Born of courage and of honour, they march throughout the lands of the world. Battle after battle, wreathed in black, they fight against their enemies. Marching onwards they merge to become one; they are a sword, they are Hereward, they are his Legion, they are unbreakable.

I travel further through Dragon Pass but always malevolent dreams; the arena and the endless slaughter within. The faces of the fallen leer at me, ever accusing. Rage and despair in equal measure; my mind is shattered and numb. I pray for guidance from my lord in these days of weakness.

None is forthcoming, who watches over me now?

The paths through Dragon Pass are long and anonymous, I travel them alone. From the foothills of Tarsh I skirt that filth infested marsh arriving at Duck Point. There are ducks here who honour Humakt in their fight against the necromancer; Delecti and his marsh. I am calmed sleeping amongst these Death Drakes in their temple dedicated to Death, though I must move on. From Duck Point to Stone Cross where I tally a while, then avoiding the Uz plateau and on to Nochet. Little I remember of this journey, just one foot in front of the next, keep walking.

Nochet; the great metropolis, so many people from every land. Tall are the buildings; they reach high and far in all directions. Huge docks arrayed with foreign ships bring exotic cargo to market. There are temples and libraries of learning on street corners, untold book’s in every tongue. The Earth is powerful here; Ernalda and here Queen’s rule over men folk, much like my homeland of Tarsh. Men stripped of their manhood are servants to ancient crones; have they no honour? The Moonies spread their filth even here; the usual bile of acceptance and peace. Fork tongued westerner’s preach to me of their One God while commoners mutter about a Pharaoh, magical bridges and a ‘City of Wonders’; I care not.

This is too much for my simple mind, I am overwhelmed by the experiences of this past year. My sanity slipping away I am lost from the world, sleeping like an urchin, amongst the turds in the gutter. Some warrior of death am I, the last of my coin spent on drink to burn away these demons; yet they still tear through my mind. The filth that inhabit the streets sense my fate, I am ripe for thieving, murder or worse. They watch on with interest, as another bottle lies empty by my side.

The footpads are sorely tempted by this washed up mercenary, slumped in the alley, out cold from the grog. Looking each way they stalk closer, sharp knives at the ready. The armour and weapons alone would fetch good coin. A local painted lady turns away and walks out of sight, she’ll be no part of this trouble.

I am lost to the world, always the same nightmare; the arena is empty, no crowd watching this day. A raven picks some choice meat from a nearby corpse, a squawk of gratitude for my trouble. There is no dirt on the arena floor, only corpses floating in a sea of crimson. Each one dispatched by my sword, deserving or not, is here within the circle of death. They rise up shambling towards me, fingers point accusingly.
Always the same question or their purple lips; why? I have no answer. Guilt surges from the pit of my stomach, and then comes the rage. This time it ends abruptly as I am draw back to the world of the living.

They stand over me, at least five, whispering to each other in low voices. I look into a face; it is smeared with gore, a cut across one eye revealing an empty socket dripping crimson. The fallen have found me. Icy fingers of fear creep down my back; with dread in my heart I leap up. Calling to the lord I reach for my sword. The lightest touch of the hilt and suddenly he is returned; a white fire of exhilaration surges about my frame.

I was lost, now I am found, he is with me once more. Fearful is my visage as I slowly turn to face my enemies. They behold conflict incarnate; terror etched across their faces.

“The time for honouring yourselves is at an end“

For moments there is no movement, silence but for the beating of my heart. Blind fury wracks my frame as Kargan guides my sword; I am lost to the battle. Humakt strikes this way and that, each blow granting true death to my enemies. Joy sings out in my heart; his purpose revealed once more. Then the rage withdraws leaving me strangely invigorated, alive. Minutes or hours have passed, I know not. I stand in silence smeared in gore and blood, crimson dripping from the blade of my sword.


Corpses missing both limbs and heads are all about, but no grim questions for me, no accusing fingers. There is little honour in dispatching vermin such as this but there is joy, he has returned to me. Sheathing my sword I contemplate his purpose.

My friends the raven are here again squawking their appreciation at this new feast. They arrive quickly? Or do they follow me, trusting in his presence for their sustenance.
Head in hands my mind begins to reel, playing through images of those portents revealed by my lord. Visions of a verdant forest repeat over and over; it is the Arstola Forest and the Aldryami are here.

In short order I find the Halls of Death here in Nochet. Grand are they compared to those in Tarsh and home to all manner of Humakti. Strange are some customs; dressing as dandies with foppish voices, others from distant lands with blasphemous views on death. To my relief there are familiar folk, some Ditali, others from Sartar. Not of my homeland but honest men none the less; common folk like me and know what it is to be Humakti. The Sartarites are from many clans; fleeing from lunar oppression they seek refuge and to regroup. As the clouds roll in from Mirrorsea Bay a skald of their friendship sings a haunting song;

“When Voria blooms in the darkness
Her blossoms swing light from each tree
When Dragon awakes and spreads fire
Its then that our land will be free.

I wander her hills and her valleys
And still through my sorrow I see
A land that has never known freedom
And only her rivers run free.

I drink to her sons and her daughters
Those ones who would rather have died
Than to live in the cold chains of bondage
To bring back the rites we're denied.

Where are you know that we need you,
What thunders where storm used to be?
All gone, like the rains of last season
And only our rivers run free.

How sweet is life but we're crying
How mellow the mead but we're dry
How fragrant the grape but its dying
How gentle the wind but its ice.

What good is a youth when its aging
What joy is an eye that can't see
When there's sorrow in stormwind and shower
And still only our rivers run free.”

Cold Wind Over Sartar; my eyes water, a conflict so dear to my heart.

Yet I am to Arstola Forest under his direction. I pray hard for answers, keen to return at once to Tarsh and honour the oath given to the Exiles. Its has been so very hard to find my centre these past week though here in these cold halls I feel as one, if only for a short while. He listens well to my supplications but the journey remains the same, to Arstola.

I try in vain to seek gainful employment to take me to this forest. There is little work for a lone warrior, even less heading out east to ‘the barbarian lands’. Then by chance an Lhankor Mhy sage from the Nochet knowledge temple seeks an audience. Loricon is a balding old man with bright eyes and what appears to be a false beard ties with twine. He seeks a guard for his person and his scrolls; some story about a Thanatari Heresy; I care not. We will travel to Kosh, then Belernos and then into the forest itself. He is wise with the Aldryami and intends to stay for extended study of flora and fauna; perhaps a season or more.

We travel slowly burdened with these books and scrolls. Although old he is sharp of mind with a great capacity for babble. I bear the talk of ancient lore for many days; my mind is full too quickly with such nonsense; I’ll wager there are no treaties on weapon mastery! Loricon’s fear of ‘head shrinkers’ is constant, he sees assassins at every turn. I comfort him by stating that he watches over us both this journey. He looks a little afraid but is strong with the truth and knows this is no falsehood.

The journey through the great crop fields of Esrolia is dull and without honour. The rule of women abounds; many times I must lower my gaze to ensure quick passage past Babeester sisters and their kind. It takes what seems like seasons to make Kosh; a strange yet familiar city; the Longsi and their kin are strong here. They are not like my own but nearer than those fops at Nochet, it is good to drink and talk amongst honest men folk that choose the sword over the plow.

Finally we arrive at the enclave that is Belernos and I see the Aldryami. They are fey and striking like nothing I have seen before. I watch their every move around this town while Loricon pays for supplies and makes good for the last leg of our journey. These elven folk are sure to keep their distance from me, far more than normal folk who understand death and its servants.

This morning, as every day, I honour him ever trying to reproduce his perfection and mastery over all weapons. Even in these dark days I find great salvation in this daily routine. My form is good this day although concentration and control lacking as it has been so since the arena.
I withdraw from my meditations and sheath the blade. To my surprise there are many elves here, they are mostly green coloured and without armour or weapons. They share the same look; distrust with concealed fear. Loricon is here with them.

He says to me that “these Aldryami distrust servants of death such as you and will not let us enter“ I reply that "He is just and at one with honour. He deals death only to those deserving. I have given my word to protect the sage during his study and I will not turn back”

Then I begin to recount story of Humakt and how he dealt with oath breakers. Loricon quickly stops translating and brings the conversation to a close with a forced smile.
The Aldryami talk amongst themselves with unconcealed glances in my direction. They are undecided and leave for the forest without the sage or myself. The sage seems concerned that they will not return and talks of ending my contract with him if this is so. It appears they have got over their misgivings and arrive in the dark of early morning to take us to their forest. It is clear they will not take chances as tall copper clad warrior with spears and stern gaze join our group on the outskirts of town.

I speak not their language so wait for translations from the sage who is babbling as usual. How I pity the Aldryami, their ears must surely bleed before the day is done.
A few hours into the forest it becomes clear that their trust runs very shallow; we are told that we will be blindfolded. My argument with Loricon causes much amusement amongst the copper clad warriors but fear returns to the faces of the other Aldryami. With a curse I accept the blindfold and we are lead further into the forest.

Without sight we travel, stopping only to eat late into the evening, night and the early part of the following day. Finally stopping the blindfolds are removed. We are in a circle of huge trees, there are many Aldryami of different colours and sizes; not just green. On closer inspection there are all manner of beautiful plant like women and other creature and beast I have not the words to describe. Loricon is met with great interest and no small celebration mobbed by the gathered Aldryami. They know his by a strange name. I am left to one side, staring in wonderment, alone except for the copper clad warriors who eye me intently. These elves seem more sensitive to death and its servants than common folk; many look upon me with undisguised fear and loathing.

After an hour I am finally introduced by the sage to the Aldryami. They are all silent as Loricon introduces me as a man of honour and his protector during his stay. There is much chattering and noise from around the glade to which the sage looks confused. With some finality the noise stops, it is silent, the Aldryami look expectantly at me. Loricon states
”You will be known as Aelfwyrd within this forest and by all Aldryami, it is without simple translation and bold for one so young”

The gathered elves begin to chatter amongst each other but now look upon me with a mix of fear, interest and awe. Many are the elves that come close and touch my skin only to recoil at whatever they find; I smile all the same.

Soon I am taken away from the scene by a striking elven women; green with strange golden flowers in her hair. She is a leader of sorts with copper spear and armour bearing symbols of truth. To my surprise she speaks to me in halting common tongue.

“You have honour and truth in your soul Aelfwyrd. It is not this that makes them concerned; it is the death that you carry that makes them fearful. Aldrya teaches us of life and rebirth. Gods such as yours have brought us great sorrow; a true death.”

“Yet your name brings great responsibility and will prove the source of much pride. I hope you have the strength to bear this name, it has proved too much a burden for many before you.”

She moves the conversation to a lighter tone.

“The sage will be safe within the bosom of Aldrya, you need not worry for his life within these groves. We offer hospitality and in return expect your support. As a warrior we ask you to help in the protection of the groves. Is this well with you?”

“I am honoured by this name giving and will gladly return such friendship”

So it was that Aelfwyrd was named and became familiar with the Aldryami and their world. A strong bond is made with the elven woman, yet she remains nothing more than a friend, too complex for such a simple warrior from Tarsh. Aelfwyrd does not return with the sage, who releases him from his oath. Staying for many seasons he continues to contribute to the protection of the Aldryami and their kind. Learning a little of the language and some tiny fragments of the customs he enjoys this time.

This period proves invaluable for healing his fractured mind, but the black nightmares and blacker moods are not cured completely and still lurk there, under the surface.
Over the last week his lord has been on his mind greatly. These Aldryami and their forest had taught him much.

But he calls again, time enough for healing after battle and it’s war that calls him this day
To Nochet and the Legion

Kzgarn Barefang
High in the stars am I, below there is a forest stretching away in all directions. It is twilight, yet there is much movement down between the tress; I focus to the forests floor.
The towering mountain of lead thunders through the foliage, legs pumping furiously, flanged maces whirling and weaving strange patterns in the evening air. Its lord; Demon of the Legions of Death is with him; fear and hatred radiate like some insane nightmare. Tracking behind this monstrosity are its pack; fearsome berserkers one and all, clothed in lead; black and crimson.
The last of the Aldryami scouting party ducks and weaves, expertly picking through the undergrowth at considerable speed. She is fey; flowers of white and green in her hair, lithe and sleek; built for stealth and speed along hidden forest paths. This day is lost, like her party, but she will make it back to the glade to warn her captain at all costs. I know her face and that of the wood lord captain but their names are long forgotten.
The Death Lord will not be bested this day, least not by a snivelling plant. Thundering along it roars in darkspeech, calling to the underworld for a Fiery Death. Deep, dark red flames lick from behind chinks in its armour, tongues of fire dart from its helm and play in the air. A deafening challenge echoes around the forest cowing all within.
Fear bludgeons the fleeing elf like a maul blow to the very essence of her being. Her concentration lapses for a just moment; a low hanging branch is not seen until too late, a blow to the head. Not fatal but enough to daze and slow. In a single beat of her heart the beast is on her.
Time runs slow as she starts to rise, looking this way and that for an escape. The whirling noise is close now and joined by a strange but yet familiar crackling and spitting sound. Sudden realisation strikes terror deep within, a searing heat engulfs her small frame and washes over the nearby foliage. The mighty Uz, wreathed in flames looms large over his prey. The forest nearby catches fire as her skin begins to crack, bubble and pop. Releasing a silent scream she leaps to the side in a desperate bid to be free. The whirling sound ceases for a split second as flanged maces bite deep into head and torso. She is hit twice mid jump and is thrown with a thud against a nearby tree trunk; landing in a broken heap on the forest floor.
Roaring its victory to all within the forest its raises the Aldryami with a claw, like a rag doll to its face. The berserker gang arrive like a herd of cattle then join with their master’s bestial victory celebration tossing the maimed corpse of the Aldryami between them. Fighting breaks out as each Uz wrestles for the flesh they covert so dearly. Bones crack and sinew tears; moments later little is left of the Aldryami scout bar spittle and gore on the berserkers breastplates.
Sated; at least for now, the Death Lord throws off its spiked helm revealing a malevolent and gnarled face. Pausing to only to swallow the remaining hunk of still burning flesh, Kzgarn Barefang looks up at me snarling a bloody challenge.
He is one of Zorak Zoran's Death Lords, a psychopathic butcher in every sense; he is Fire, Death and Darkness incarnate.

The Seven Dragon Blade
Saddle-sore and caked in filth I ride the last mile of the trade route that leads to the great desert. The heat and size of the flies tell me that this must be the fabled land of Prax. Shading my eyes from the glare I glance down to the walled city of Pavis. It is an outpost in the barren features less land surrounded with makeshift tents and hovels. Ancient buildings, now nothing but rubble lead off from the city walls in all directions. Squinting I can just make out people, like ants, crawling over the ruins.

A moment of clarity; the portents, the mystic, the dragon blade, this is the place.

Even in this distant land, the lunars are ever present. The militia bears the device of the moon. Is there no place free of their worming cancer? The lunar slurry sits in power here no doubt, yet the moon cowers in the Prax sky unlike my homeland of Tarsh. Perhaps these animal riding nomads know more than they let on?

The bustling streets have a frontier town feel, strange noises and smells assault my senses. There is danger here, enemies abound, armed with cold metal, others with forked tongues. Heads turn my way and eyes look questioningly as a new sword picks his way through the crowd.

Weeks it has been since my last contemplation in the glorious halls of death. Welcome to me are these brothers in arms, servants of Humakt them all. These honest warriors know what it is to face death without fear, they have no deceit within. Kneeling, faced bowed in respect, I recount my deeds in silent prayer. It is good to be as one in my lord’s house this day. I rise with purpose; my heart overflowing with strength and honour.

Relaxed am I sleeping within these sanctified halls and I am soon drifting away. Woken late morning, a messenger awaits my attention. Outside in the sparing square is a small child sized man, yellow of skin, with slited eyes. A strange sight, well groomed like lunar woman, hair pulled back and garbed in robes of colour. He says, with a strange accent, that his master is waiting.

Dressing quickly I follow the man boy to a clean and rich quarter of the city. We enter a tall stone building next to a large walled kitchen garden. The rooms are plan and simple, without adornments. A sweet yet fresh aroma hangs in the air, wooden chimes knock gently together. We walk outside.

The garden is overflowing with plants of many scents; strange birds chirp and fly this way and that. A small grey haired man is placing white pebbles in some pattern on the ground of the garden. We wait for many minutes as he studies each stone as if each a puzzle to solve. A pebble is moved slightly and then he steps back to look again. The stone is moved again until finding the correct position.

Finally turning in my direction I meet his gaze. He bows, eyes never leaving mine. His face shows the lines of many seasons, his stare is wilful and strips me to the bone.

Matter of factly he states “You are here to study; you are my student, I your sensai”

I reply “Kargan is my lord and my teacher. I need no other”

He states “I know not of Kargan or any of your gods. I am from Kralorea, a distant land across the sea”

“Kargan is a master of all weapons and at one with death”

He says “Death is no weapon it is the claws and teeth of deadly dragons"

I state Kargan’s first truth, “Death resides in all weapons. Perhaps these dragons are but vassals of Humakt’s power, much like a sword”

The old man breaths deeply, slowly shaking his head from side to side.

He says “Complex and subtle are these great wyrms, but to understand their nature is to understand the greater conflict; the art of war” there is a pause “You have much to learn”

Seasons are spent in the company of ‘the sensai’ and his nameless servant. We spent endless hour’s sword training, it reminds me of time spent in my youth with clan weapon masters in Far Point yet this is wyrd in its learning.

These are strange teachings of “Harmonising oneself in action” and to “wield a sword: not to control the enemy, but to control myself”. We practice against single or multiple imaginary foes, concentrating on posture and movement, grip, and swing. The goal is to cut away unneeded movement so combat becomes all out attack; simple and direct and granting immediate counter to surprise or ambush.

The evenings are spent discussing what it is to be a warrior and the code which must be followed. Then there is teaching and meditation of dragons and all things wyrmish, which is powerful but complex for my simple mind.

One day, on completing a description of the Autumn Dragon, the sensai pauses, then points to the corner of the room. Empty for many weeks the room now holds a weapon so horrific it is like some nightmare instrument of torture. Yet to his mind it could not a faulted, a perfect union of sword, spear, staff and trident.

The sensai breaths deeply and turns to face me, “I am too old and you have learned all I can teach for now. Take the Seven Dragon Blade, it is yours, it mirrors your soul"

As I pick up the weapon sensai says, “You understand its purpose now, it is yours to honour”
The blade if simple in design yet weighs so little and flashes with brilliance even in the low light of the room. Inscribed down the blade are runic carvings of seven dragons entwined in ferocious combat.

His last words “Go now Kargan san”

It is over as quickly as it had begun.
More Seven Dragon Blade

Taking a long swig of water from his canteen the Kargani regards the
Kralorean weapon as it flashes brilliantly in the morning sun. It
seems as if he had owned the Seven Dragon Blade for an eternity, yet
it had been in his possession for but a season, two at most.
Strangely he could not imagine wielding any other weapon now, but why
should he, it was flawless.

To most the sinister looking weapon was perhaps some nightmare
instrument of torture but to his mind it could not a faulted, a
perfect union of sword, spear, staff and trident. Having the poking
and snaring capabilities of the trident, the ripping, slicing, and
thrusting ability of the bladed spear, the cutting of the sword, the
block and strike hit of a staff, and pull slice of a hook sword.

Running a blistered hand down a blade edge he follows each twist and
bifurcation, touching every razor sharp point in turn. Musing how
such a weapon would be forged he tries, for perhaps the thousandth
time, to discern the strange runes carved deep into the ebony and
ivory that run the length of the haft.

None the wiser he snorts, concentration returning to the present for
the moment he feels the pain return, the blisters were like needles
and the puss stank like month old animal guts. Feeling the sun
burning his pox marked skin Aelfwyrd thinks about today's training
with Yrsga and Korol; it should be started before the heat becomes
unbearable. Going without food and sleep was one thing, missing a day
training ritual was an affront to the Lord himself!

With an absent smile he remembers his own harsh training, when his
was still Tresdarnii. Yet his mind drifts from Broddi Clapsaddle and
settles instead on the words of the diminutive sensei, and his
strange eastern teachings;

"Harmonising oneself in action" and to "wield the weapon: not to
control the enemy, but to control myself" and of "posture, movement,
grip, and swing" and to "cut away unneeded movement so combat becomes
all out attack; simple and direct and granting immediate counter to
surprise or ambush"

Tracing a finger over flat of the blade he touches the intricate
etching of Korgatsu, The Mountain Dragon and with furrowed brow he
recalls the lesson;

"Each blade a dragon, each dragon a name;

Tarn Gat Ha, The Heavenly Dragon,
Thrunhin Da, The Ancient Water Dragon,
Heen Maroun, The Storm Dragon,
Han Soo, The Blazing Sun Dragon,
Korgatsu, The Mountain Dragon,
Sekever, The Night Dragon,
Imin Long, The Oracle Dragon

Each blade part of the weapon, each dragon part of the whole;

Un Lo, The Cosmic Dragon"

The meaning of the lesson was still lost on him.

Youthful Memories
Aelfwyrd dreams he was still Ingard Mannison and of the time he became Humakti. But a youth of Tresdarni clan, the Twin Birch bloodline ran strong within my veins. I had lived Orlanth's life to the full in wilds of Lagerwater during my youth but must become a man sooner than many.

I was just nine years old but had heard whisper of the Righteous Wind and how it would strike down the lunars and their madness. Many thanes especially the Vingan women went to fight for that rebellion in 1611, yet at Gamla’s Leap they were slain, only a handful returned. Then at eleven in 1613 it was Starbrow's rebellion that took those still able to fight. We are weak, then comes kinstrife; our *king* and his fawning solar godi scheme to bring the clan under heel. Only the young and infirm seem to be left now, the thanes are younger each year that take up the defence of the clan.

So it was with a heavy heart that father agreed to the training with Clapsaddle, a gnarled and scary Tresdarni weaponthane. A Humakti veteran of the rebellions, Braggi was nobodies fool and wise in more than just the sword. Many seasons pass in Braggi's training with other young Tresdarni; long days full of toil under his scowling gaze and harsh words; war and death was a serious matter and you better not forget it.

Seasons pass and then suddenly the relentless training and spoken word was suddenly at an end; it is time.

We travel through the foothills of Far Point, towards Alda Chur! Many other weaponthanes are met along the trail, some laugh and others are cold, grim as death himself. Braggi knows them one and all and they talk at length of what may come to pass. At dusk we walk down into the walled city of Alda Chur making haste to the War Temple, the dark and foreboding halls of death.

That very night, with blood and iron, I face Death revealed in all his majesty. Severed from kin my initiation is made

I am dead now, I am Humakti.

With the first revelations of Kargan burning my mind I stand outside the War Temple in the frosty dark of early morning. Trying to control my shivering I stand alongside my new brothers and sisters, we are servants of death now, Humakti one and all. Ravens gather on the roof of the War Temple as we stand motionless under fluttering standards and banners.

Then the silence is broken, I hear the Dawn Muster for the first time;

The Dawn Muster
Lord of the Long Road, Humakt, Name-Quester
Cut short my days, destroy me.

Master of Silence, Bronze-Dyer, Illusion Render
Betray my hope, destroy me.

Wielder of the Truth that cuts
the pain that frees

Destroy me once, destroy me twice
till only you remain.

Great Ironbroker of corpses, Straight-Will,
Terrible Secret

I do not claim to judge you
to proclaim, ’this is just’ or ‚’this is evil’
for you alone know Truth.

I know only to obey
surrender to your sharp command
that I may walk the long road, hear the silence
and free myself from life.

All I have is death, and company of swords
to lift the weight of falsehood from my soul.

May fierce fate’s frenzy dye our blades blood red
that we, enduring, suffer into truth.

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