Category Archives: Age of War

The Legend of Puab Closk: The End

The Legend of Puab Closk: The End
by Rao Lin, Tenth Keeper of Knowledge

Near the end of The Age of Turmoil, after the betrayal of the followers of Marr, at the beginning of the malicious tyranny that is the reign of the Overlord Lucan D’Lere, the Ashen Order abandoned Freeport. Freeport became a den of evil and villainy where goodly men were fed to the soldiers of an oppressive dictatorship.

D’Lere strangled out every last drop of decency and good will from those he ruled. Puab Closk would not stay to be exploited and corrupted and neither would the Ashen Order. Puab and the Order left Freeport and traveled to the one place left unscathed by The Age of Turmoil. They traveled to the Desert of Ro, to the very pillar where Puab was given the knowledge of Arcane Combat. There they setup the monastery of T,Narev.

The Order spent many years in peace training and refining Arcane Combat under the tutelage of Puab. They found many ways to expand and adapt the concepts to many different styles of fighting. The Ashen Order monks rarely used metal weapons, preferring the purity of fists and feet, but they set aside this preference and also developed many weapon styles. The Ashen Order spent nearly two hundred years in peace atop their butte. These days of peace were shattered by the unstoppable insurgence of The Age of War. The goblinoid, mindless minions burned and pillaged where they pleased, killing everyone they found.

The wicked ran blades through the hearts of the pure. The wars seemed endless, like they would rage until every living thing in Norrath was obliterated. The Ashen Order could no longer stay secluded. They left T,Narev and ran to the aide of both Freeport and Qeynos. The stories of Puab’s conversation with Quellious spoke of this time. The Order felt this was what they prepared for. They knew the might of men would be shown in the great battles to come. The Order split into two large raiding parties composed of several small groups.

One headed to Freeport and the other to Qeynos. They fought many battles on the way to besieged cities. During these battles they noticed that in small groups their power was doubled and in some cases tripled. Certain combinations of Arcane Combat Arts produced effects more powerful than anyone had ever imagined possible. They could produce the greatest of weapons.

The Ashen Order dominated all they faced with this new weapon and turned the tide of battle for each of the cities. Many monks were lost in this war, but all fought bravely for the survival of humanity. In the end with the help of the Ashen Order the sieges at both Qeynos and Freeport were ended. The heads of the Order gathered together in the burnt remains of the Surefall Glade several nights after the great battle. The stars were obscured by the smoke of the funeral pyres, Qeynos lay in near ruins.

The Faydark was believed to be lost and all around them was heavy weight of hopelessness. That night the decision was made to give the Royal Antonican Guard, who fought so bravely beside the Ashen Order, the knowledge of Arcanic Combat. It was also decided to not give this knowledge freely to the Overlord’s minions. An emissary of the Overlord Lucan D’Lere offered to give the Ashen Order a monastery in the Commonlands. The Order considered the offer with trepidation, but also believed that not all of the citizens of Freeport were evil and therefore could not reject it.

They established the monastery and used it to help those they could and also spy on the Overlord. They were betrayed by the Overlord and raided by the Freeport Militia. Every monk residing in the Commonlands monastery was taken and tortured horribly until eventually the knowledge of Arcanic Combat was squeezed from the monks.

Arcanic Combat is now the predominant form of battle used in the post-shattered Norrath. It is the weapon that Quellious and Puab Closk gave the world. Some say that Puab Closk and the Ashen Order saved humanity, that they did, but we have also unleashed the knowledge of a great power to an unenlightened world. This is the legend and legacy of Grand Master Puab Closk.


The Legend of Puab Closk: The Beginning

The Legend of Paub Closk: The Beginning
by Rao Lin, Tenth Keeper of Knowledge

It is said by those outside of the Ashen Order that Paub Closk was a visionary, a prophet born of the womb of Quellious, sent to save the world from the tyranny and viciousness of the Gods. Some claim he single-handedly restored order to the world during the Age of War.

These are exaggerations of course, but the truth is sometimes seen as far more outrageous than the myth. Grand Master Paub Closk did indeed help to save the humanity of the world, but he also made life far more dangerous. He gave the world its greatest weapon.

Unlike some of the more fancify stories suggest, Paub Closk was born in the cith of Freeport. He was the child of a hard working merchant family. When he was seven years old his parents and the members of their trade expedition between Freeport and Highhold Keep were slaughtered by orcs. Knowing the expedition would be dangerous, Paub’s parents made arrangements with the monks of the Ashen Order to take and teach Paub in case they were killed.

The monks came for him the day his parents were murdered.

The monks taught Paub about life and Quellious. As he grew older he found consolation in the The Tranquil and pledged himself fully to her. He began spending any free time meditating and reading. Slowly he began to gain true inner peace and understanding.

His teachers believed that he was on the edge of true enlightenment and encouraged him to take lone trips away from the city. Paub took their advice and went out on many excursions to he Desert of Ro. He felt more at home in the desert.

In one of his earlist journals he describes one such trip to the desert, “The brush of sand across my cheek and the cold of the desert’s night only encourage my journey. The wind whispers to me and in it I hear myself. I am the vast openness of the desert waiting for the day’s light to burn me clean.”

His connection to the dunes was obvious.

At the age of twenty-five he was the youngest ever to be granted the title of Sensei. He taught all of his students the ways of the desert and encouraged them to mold themselves into its likeness. Paub was the finest martial arts instructor to ever grace the halls of the Ashen Order.

Nearly everyone he taught became a Sensei in their own right and each of them gives credit to Paub. He gave his position to his protege after only ten years as Sensei.

He spent most of his time meditating and expanding on his martial knowledge. He traveled far and wide to learn new martial styles from all those he could. He refined and polished every style he learned and taught it to the entire Ashen Order.

Paub was well known for disappearing into the desert for weeks at a time without telling anyone when or where he was going.

One such journet came near the end of the Age of Turmoil. Paub disappeared into the desert for well over a season. It is said that the desert called to him and he answered her call, some say it was Quellious herself that called to him. So, that was where he went.

According to his students Paub walked and walked trying to find the voice that called to him. Late one night while meditating on the crest of a dune he heard the call clear. He turned around and saw a river rushing towards him followed by a great of whirlwind sand. It is said the store devoured him and spit him out atop a large red pillar.

All recounts of what happened next are the same. All the stories say that atop this pillar of stone he spoke with Quellious and she praised him for his search of enlightenment and the purity of his mind and self. She then gifted him with the greatest of martial styles, the Acanic Combat. It is said he spent many moons training atop the pillar with no food or drink. There he mastered the styles and brought them back to the Ashen Order.

The History of the Fae

This is a history of the Fae. Its pages cannot be completed at one time, but must be gained through valor and experience.
Through my own experiences, I can gain knowledge and insight into the Fae.

Tunare, Goddess of nature, gave us life. As she walked through Greater Faydark, flowers sprung up beneath her feet. One of these flowers turned its face toward her as a heliotrope to the sun. “You are precious,” said Tunare, laughing and gently cupping the blossom in her hands. And so, the first Fae were formed of blossoms and Tunare’s laughter. That was the beginning of the Dream Ring, the first Ring in which the Fae realized that their lives were indeed precious.

Life was quiet for the Fae in those distant times. One of the Fae learned the language of the Feir’Dal, our brothers and sisters of Tunare. In time, all Fae learned some Feir’Dal words and added them to our own language, Faerlie. And Joleena took her new language skills into Kelethin, the city of the Feir’Dal. She lives amongst them for a time and when she returned, we made her our first Queen.

Our people had often lived in small bands, roving through the Faydarks. We recognized that we had much in common with the Feir’Dal, and so over time, many of the Fae migrated to live near the trees which formed its base. Many of the Fae died in the Burning Ring, when the armies of the War of Fay crossed the woods, burning everything before them.

Those who were not killed were horrified. We had never witnessed so much death and destruction! And though emissaries were sent to Felwithe, the Koada’Dal sent no help. Much of Greater Faydark and Kelethin were burned, yet the First Children did nothing. Instead, they closed themselves away once the War had ended. And so began the Ring of Sadness.

We helped the Feir’Dal rebuild Kelethin. Who else had they to turn to but the Fae? Queen Cydney oversaw our contributions, channeling our Fae magic to heal the trees and restore the Faydarks to beauty. We mourned, for Queen Cydney’s spirit bud, holding all her memories and experiences, was lost to us forever.

Each Fae is formed from the spirit bud of one of the ancestors. By maintaining the blossom, the Fae can reawaken its spirit and remember threads from the distant past. Many of us who can recall the Ring of Sadness prefer to remember the Quiet Ring that followed it instead, for the Age of War did not touch Kelethin until later.

As the gods seemed to withdraw from us, the Fae’s magical influences seemed to wane as well. Through we had moved away from Kelethin itself, remembering the Burning Ring, Queen Saphrina encouraged us to move back. “There are dark forces everywhere,” she said. “It will be safer for us to join with the Feir’Dal before it is too late.” And so we did, building a wall of brambles to keep the city safe.

The Crushbone orcs proved Queen Saphrina right – they took her life and destroyed her spirit bud. This was truly the First Ring of Chaos. Deterred by the thick brambles we had raised beneath the city, the orcs laid siege to Kelethin, never envisioning from which direction our help would come.

They crept in from Lesser Faydark, an army of brownies, and decimated the Crushbone orcs. They had never been our particular allies before, rescuing us had been incidental to their love of battle. Queen Jillian granted them the status “Friend of the Fae” from that moment onward. The siege was broken, yet the wars raging around us did not cease. Nor did the orcs let up their attempted assault on the city.

An uneasily peaceful time followed – the Ring of Leaving. In a very short span of time, we witnessed some of the remaining Feir’Dal and others leave Faydwer. They spoke of receiving a vision, a word from Tunare. And as time went on, we let the brambles protecting Kelethin dissipate as we moved into the city ourselves.

We thought that troubles times lay behind us now, yet the Ring of Trials had only begun. All around us the lands began to change, groaning and breaking apart. Built into the trees, Kelethin withstood the trembling earth below. We felt we were being tested, but had no way of knowing if we had passed.

The last trial was the death of our young, beautiful Queen Liivika, just two days before her wedding, leaving the Fae to mourn yet again. Some began to question how Tunare could leave us. Others argued that she had not left, that we simply needed to learn how to live like the Feir’Dal. We Fae lost some of our innocence, but we know that we are not alone. Our spirits tell us this.

Changes were wrought, some not as obvious as the madly swirling seas and others very evident. We were growing taller and the shapes and colors of our wings began to differ. The Ring of Regrowth marked a period of rapid changes amongst the Fae. Sadly, during this time two of our Queens disappeared and we were unable to recover their spirits.

The Second Ring of Chaos began with what Outsiders call the Shattering. Shards of Luclin rained down around Faydwer, but fortunately, most of Greater Faydark escaped unscathed. A few of Kelethin’s platforms caught fire and burnt, though most of the city was untouched. Queen Sephria and later her daughter Queen Kilina were both killed by the rain of debris which stopped as suddenly as it had started.

Some days, we wondered what had become of those who had left Faydwer. Where did they go? Did they perish in the Second Ring of Chaos? Would we ever see them or their kin again? For our spirits continued to renew and continued to remember. And then ships arrived as well as parties crossing into Greater Faydark from elsewhere, and we knew that times were changing. Again.

Thus began the Peaceful Ring, which continues to the present. Given our history, we wonder – Peaceful for how long? Queen Oola oversaw the rebuilding of the parts of Kelethin that had been destroyed and left the city to her daughter Amree, our current Queen. Who knows what our future holds, now that Outsiders come once again to Faydwer?

The Blood of the Bear, Part Two

This is the second part of a legend among the Northlanders concerning the Age of War. In Part One, Kiva met Benno, who was not of her village.
Though the Horde had not yet come to their village, Kiva’s people were prepared. With the Growth season upon them, they knew that ways previously impassable were now easier to access. They had dug in defensive trenches lined with sharply spiked branches and stakes. They had watches every night, both for the bears that were awakening and for any sign that the Horde might be advancing their way.

Kiva was near the river gathering more wood when she again saw Benno. He stood at the edge of the melting ice, staring intently into the water. Before Kiva could call out a greeting, Benno reached into the water and with a quick swipe of his hand had knocked a fish onto the icy shore.

As he picked up the fish, Benno noticed Kiva watching him. “I have never seen anyone fish that way before,” she said, coming closer. Benno laughed and bade her stand back from the icy edge. He braced himself on the riverbank and stared into the black waters. He stood still for so long, Kiva wondered whether he had frozen in place. Suddenly he bent forward, darting his hand at the water and flinging another fish to the shore.

“That is how we fish in my clan,” Benno said, picking up the fish and putting it into a rough bag he had at his belt. Kiva laughed and said, “I have never seen that before; your clan must not be from around here.” Benno glanced at her and said, “No. It is not.” He turned to leave, then said hesitantly, “Are you curious to see where my clan is from?”

Kiva paused, considering, “Is it far? I am on watch and must be back before dark.” Benno nodded, “You will be back before dark.” And then without warning he scooped her into his arms and crossed the water. “Benno! The river ice is melting!” Kiva gasped, “The water bites with cold; are you mad?” He laughed and said, “This is nothing; I am of the North!”

Benno pushed through the snow-covered branches that hung low to the riverbank. Kiva had never walked on this side of the river before and she was fascinated. The trees grew tall and thick and were so closely set that no snow reached the ground. They came at last to an enormous tree, and at its roots, Benno pushed aside a leafy bush, revealing a hole into the ground.

Though Kiva had to stoop to enter (as did Benno, who was taller than the tallest Northman), she could stand upright once inside. The cavernous hole seemed to go on and on into the darkness. Benno lit candles and offered her honey mead. It was warming and delicious. He brought her dried berries.

“Where is the rest of your clan?” asked Kiva. A shadow passed over Benno’s features. He said softly, “I am the last of my kind,” then he said as though correcting himself, “Of my kin.” Benno sat silently for a moment. “We lived in this place in the time of Growth, but at other times lived in other places. The Horde found us elsewhere. I alone escaped.”

“I am sorry,” Kiva said. “The Horde has not yet come here.” “But they will,” Benno said quietly. “They will never get what they seek. The time has come for them to be defeated. And when they are gone, I will join another clan. My strength will be theirs.”

Looking around the empty cavern, Benno said, “Come! It is time for you to return to your people.” He took Kiva’s hand and stood for a moment, studying it closely; it was so small in his palm. Then he smiled at her and led the way through the bush into the woods.

Sovereignties of Qeynos

Sovereignities of Qeynos

Penned by Randyle Brinn,

Historian and Scholar

On this, the first anniversary of Antonia Bayle?s crowning

Antonius Bayle (the first) ? The Great Unifier

Time of Rule: The Age of Enlightenment

Antonius Bayle, son of Vallius Bayle, brought order to the Plains of Karana, unifying the nomadic clans of the plains with the village of Oceangreen, and thus established the city of Qeynos. Havign renounced the title of king, he required all to simply call him by his name, Antonius.

Antonius Bayle II ? The Great Defender

Time of Rule: The Age of Reclamation & Age of Turmoil

Antonius Bayle II had studied under the fearless Knights of Thunder, as well as the Rangers of Surefall Glade. His mind for battle was instrumental in keeping the city unified despite the upheavals and unrest that plagued his reign, including the Erudite exodus from the city, and their subsequent uprising within Erudin. Under the rule of this militaristic leader, the Qeynos Guard grew and expanded divisions beyond the city walls.

Antonius Bayle III ? The Great Diplomat

Time of Rule: The Age of Turmoil

Antonius Bayle III, noted for his foreign diplomacy, is lauded for forging alliances between Qeynos and Erudin, northmen clans, and the halflings of Rivervale, during an overwise notably tumultuous time, which witnessed the erection of Paineel, and the dawn of Sir Lucan D?lere rule of Freeport. His intentions for establishing diplomatic ties with such hated enemies of the state were cut short by assassination, but not before he had fathered three notable sons; Kyle, Antonius IV, and Kane (the traitor)

His first son, Kyle, born before Antonius Bayle III had inherited the Qeynos Throne, disappeared mysteriously. From this point, the Bayle line would never again be direct, as Antonius IV, his second son and namesake, would henceforth be the most direct descendant of Antonius Bayle the first.

Antonius Bayle IV ? The Great Avenger

Time of Rule: The Age of Turmoil

By far, one of the most loved and celebrated rulers since Antonius Bayle the first, Antonius IV fought numerous battles against not only the foes of the kingdom, but the enemies of his allies. He has been noted as the single ruler that stretched the benevolent belief of Qeynos further beyond the borders than ever before. He proved his great skills of leadership and battle during the War of Plagues and established a council of representatives and advisory, known as the Circle of Ten.

Growing concerned, due to Antonius IV?s bachelorhood, the Circle of Ten implored him to wed, and sire children in order to further the Bayle lineage, and secure the Qeynos throne. Agreeing (perhaps relucantly), he accepted and arranged marriage, and soon sired twins, Anton and Antea, before his untimely death at sea.

Only upon Antonia Bayle?s emergence have historians come to learn of Antonius IV?s greatest secrets ? his love for Lady Shae of Felwithe, and his true first born, Shaonia, (Antonia?s great-great-great-grandmother), and of his true death. Antonius IV had faked his death at sea in order to be reunited with his true love, and live out his remaining life with her and their daughter.

Anton and Antea Bayle ? The Twin Monarchs

Time of Rule: The Age of War

Rather malicious folk, Antonius IV?s twin heirs squandered the riches of the throne, and demanded fealty from all citizens, ushering a dark period for the city of Qeynos. Strongly bonded, the twins often seemed more like king and queen rather than sibling rulers. After Antea was slain, by a raiding band of Rallosians, Anton was plunged into a pit of depression. His eccentric behavior became increasingly erratic and violent, ending with his suicide.

Antonius Bayle V ? The Great Sage

Time of Rule: The Age of War & The Age of Cataclysms

The child of Anton Bayle and one of Antea Bayle?s hand maidens, Antonius V was the most scholarly and wise ruler of Qeynos. He also was the youngest, having been crowned at the age of fifteen, after the death of his father. Due to his youth, he sought the unparalleled guidance of the Circle of Five in many decisions of stage. Thankfully, he had been tutored in history, art and arcane sciences during most of his youth, for without his wisdom Qeynos would ahve certainly met its destruction during the Rending.

Antonius Bayle VI ? The Great Healer

Time of Rule: The Age of Cataclysms

A disciple of the Temple of Life since his youth, Antonius VI rose to become one of the greatest priests to walk the streets of Qeynos, a power that he used benevolently when the Shattering occurred. The Great Healer aided in the healing of thousand of Qeynosians, and their allies. He found strength in the Circle of Five, and treasured their advise and guidance.

Antonius Bayle VII ? The Great Dreamer

Time of Rule: The Age of Cataclysms

During Antonius VII?s rule, the art of survival became a priority. During this time of great tragedy, he would often comfort the masses by relaying his prophetic dreams of safety, prosperity and cooperation for Qeynos. During the Great Dreamer?s reign the first steps to abandoning the animosity between the kingdom and many of its foes began.

Unfortunately, he was unable to see his dreams of harmony to their end. He, and his fellow Bayle family members, drowned when their royal vessel was swallowed by the Coldwind Sea, after being churned and torn asunder due to a great meteor shower.

The Circle of Five

Time of Rule: The Age of Cataclysms

The council of city representatives and advisers had increasingly assisted in the decisions of the crown, since their official inception as the Council of Ten during Antonius IV?s reign. They reluctantly took up rule of the kingdom themselves while a search for a royal successor was carried out. When the violent cataclysms began to calm during the reign, The Circle of Five oversaw the rebuilding of the kingdom.

Many of the current Qeynosian organizations were established under their rule, and many of the alliances started by Antonius VII were formed. The Pact of Tserrin was signed with Freeport and the Far Seas Trading Company began to run goods, services and survivors to and from the ravaged land for both cities. Their necessary reign would last only until their search for a successor of the Bayle bloodline proved fruitful!

Antonia Bayle

Time of Rule: The Age of Destiny

Born Shirrana of the Sisterhood, she is the first female to sit upon the kingdom?s throne by herself, and the first to have been bestowed the title of Antonia. She is Antonius IV?s great-great-great-granddaughter, as her mother was Taylania, the daughter of Marinya, who was the daughter of Baylisia, the daughter of Shaonia, daughter of Lady Shae of Felwithe and Antonius Bayle IV.

She took the throne with much fanfare, and brought with it hope and prosperity to the citizens of our rebuilt kingdom of Qeynos. Her current reign will undoubtedly meet many a challenge. Let us pray to the gods that she leads with dedication, conviction, grace and wisdom, as her ancestors before her.

Long live Her Highness!

Remembering Rivervale

Many brave halflings fell defending Rivervale and the Misty Thicket during the Age of War. This is the story of the defense of the Misty Thicket.
The sight of the orcs reminded Gemma of the talk in Rivervale the previous week, that goblins and orcs had teamed up in the Northlands as the “Horde of the Inferno.” Watching the tide of invaders pouring into the Misty Thicket through the breached wall, Gemma realized that the Northlands weren’t the only place where such coordination had been happening. She turned resolutely and headed to Rivervale. Someone had to warn them!

Arrows whistled past her but Gemma ran swifter than she ever had in her entire life, ducking into the trees to dodge anything aimed her way. The sound of the battle, while fainter, still rang in her ears. How had they kept the orcs a secret for so long? When she reached the outskirts of Rivervale, Gemma paused to catch her breath, her eyes darting from one familiar, beloved landmark to another, in a sorrowful farewell.

Running up and down the streets, Gemma cried out the news of the breach in the wall. The Leatherfoot Brigade units that were still in Rivervale ran past her toward the Misty Thicket. Gemma reached the doorstep of her own home and paused. She’d left it in such disarray this morning; could she bear to have some filthy orc pawing through her treasures? With a quick shake, she said angrily, “They’ll have to come through Gemma Pathfinder first.”

There was no time to dawdle. Emma burst into the house, yelling for her mother to get the younger children and head to Freeport. “Gemma! What’s the matter?” her mother asked, but it was clear from the frightened look on her face that she already knew. They hugged quickly. Gemma kissed the tops of the youngsters’ heads. She jerked open the trunk in which they kept their family’s prized possessions and pulled out an ivy-etched leather jerkin. She would wear it into battle.

“I will meet you in Freeport. Gemma, be careful!” her mother said, joining the throngs of families heading toward the Kithicor Forest. “And Bristlebane hope there are no orcs in there yet,” Gemma said under her breath. She took one last look around the disordered room where she’d lived all her life. Chairs were overturned, breakfast on the table spilled and uneaten. “Good bye,” she said softly, shutting the door and for the first time, locking it behind her.

It seemed that all of Rivervale was running someplace. Gemma joined a group of soldiers heading back toward the Misty Thicket, although from the sounds of it, they might as well stand still — the battle was coming to Rivervale. Thick black smoke rose into the air; the invaders had set fire to the Misty Thicket. Once again the desire to run — she should go with the families and protect them! — came into Gemma’s mind. She stopped running.

The sound of heartbroken crying caught her ear over the din. Gemma followed the sound to the doorway of the Rivervale schoolhouse. She found the school mistress sitting on the doorstep, shaking from the force of her tears. “Get up,” Gemma said somewhat crossly. “Get up, Winda…you’ve got to get the children and get out of here.” Winda shook her head, “They’ve all gone; they’re safe. But I’m so scared, Gemma!”

Gemma pulled Winda to her feet and took her hands. “It’ll be fine, Winda. You just head over to Freeport now with the rest of the families. They’ll need a school teacher, you know.” Chatting as cheerfully as possible, Gemma got the school teacher walking away from town. “Maybe you can get the older ones into a different room now,” Gemma said, bringing up a subject dear to Winda’s heart. Winda hated having the older children disrupting the younger ones at their lessons.

“That would be…good,” Winda sniffed. “Oh, Gemma, thank you!” Winda smiled. The battle sounds returned even louder. “I can’t go out there, I just can’t,” Gemma thought, fighting the desperate urge to run. She grabbed Winda’s hand and pulled her along the nearly deserted streets along the road to the Kithicor Forest. “The families aren’t much ahead, Winda, you just got to….” The halflings stopped running; on the road before them stood a half dozen orcs.

“Run, Winda!” Gemma pushed the school teacher back the way they’d just come. She pulled out her short swords again and faced the invaders, her feet planted firmly apart. Winda screamed and took off, shrieking as she made her escape. The orcs hadn’t seen them until then, but now they jogged purposefully up the road. One of them threw a javelin at Gemma, catching her in the shoulder. She fell, thinking, “It’s like falling asleep.”

Memories of Misty Thicket

Many brave halflings fell defending Rivervale and the Misty Thicket from the Runnyeye goblins’ assaults during the Age of War. This is but one of their stories.
The old folks often spoke of the days when they could take a picnic to remote spots in the Misty Thicket, enjoying the fragrance of flowers filling the air, the hum of bixies and bees searching for nectar and dappled sunshine filtering through the trees. These good old days had long since disappeared into a rosy past, for ever since Gemma could remember no one went out on picnics. The Runnyeye goblins and other more nasty things hunted in their woods.

The Runnyeye goblins had always been a problem for the halflings of the Misty Thicket. There had always been dangers scattered through the Thicket (which made Gemma suspect some of the old folks’ tales of picnics there were falsehoods), but a long wall kept the goblins at bay. Lately however, the goblins had gotten bolder and assaulted the wall repeatedly, causing parts of it to almost crumble faster than the halflings could repair it.

Some of Rivervale’s residents talked of fleeing to one of the bigger cities. They were at nearly the halfway point between Freeport and Qeynos, so folks gathered in the taverns to debate the merits of moving to one or the other. Halflings loved a good debate, but they preferred their topics to be more esoteric such as whether it was colder today than it had been the prior day. They did not enjoy the thought of leaving their beloved homeland.

“We can still get in and out through Kithicor,” more than one person would say stubbornly. Still, unsettling news was trickling in from that quarter as well. A large army of ogres had risen in Oggok far to the south. To the northwest, orcs and goblins under the banner of the Hordes of Inferno were attacking barbarian villages and towns. It was harder and harder to be upbeat and cheerful when the news from outside was so dismal.

Gemma Pathfinder belonged to the Leatherfoot Brigade as her family had for generations. The unit to which she belonged was a part-time unit whose most distinguished moment in history occurred when a load of hogs bound for the market escaped their owner and Gemma’s unit was dispatched to round them up. Since that incident, they were nicknamed the Hog Dodgers, which while not very flattering had been good for a round of drinks before times got so dark.

The Hog Dodgers were now called up to full-time patrolling of the Misty Thicket’s southern border. When not actively patrolling, they helped rebuild and reinforce the ancient walls that separated them from the Runnyeye goblins. As the days passed it seemed that more and more of their time was spent repairing the wall. Gemma wondered how much longer they would need to keep up the pretense that a wall of stones, lathe and plaster could keep out invaders bent on their destruction.

Rivervale’s leaders were in a quandary. If they advocated leaving, they were accused of not having faith in their own army. If they said everyone should stay, they were considered to be unaware of what was going on in the world. When election time came, several halflings from different factions got into a fist fight that erupted into bloodshed and violence. In their own town, in Rivervale! The world was definitely not the same place the old folks remembered.

Gemma pondered these unhappy events. She’d never been particularly political but that halfling would turn on halfling in the city streets just went to show….what? That they were all violent beings after all? That they were scared? That they were angry? All of these things? She wheeled a load of rocks to the wall and felt discouraged by the futility. How could a wall keep out the world anyway?

“They’re coming through!” hollered one of the guards at the gate in the wall: “They’re co–!” Gemma dropped the handles of the wheelbarrow and unsheathed her short swords. She paused for a minute in confusion, looking first to the left then swinging quickly to her right. The shouts came from all around her now and she did not know which way to run. As with the elders facing election, her mind went both ways: run away and stay to fight.

“For Rivervale!” she cried, the side of her wanting to cleave the briskets of the goblins winning over the part that wanted to hide until it was over. She ran toward the direction from which the battle sounded the loudest and ground to a halt, staring in horror at the sight before her. Entire sections of the wall had been pushed over to either side of the gate and pouring through the wider opening were legions of goblins and orcs.

History of the Hand

History of the Hand
A chronicled record of the Hand of Serenity

The History of the Hand – A Gift from the Heavens

During the Age of Turmoil, Quellious, the Goddess of Tranquility, imparted a portion of the Plane of Tranquility to create the demi-plane of Serenity. Where Tranquility goverened the overall state of peace and calm of Norrath, Serenity was created to focus on the personal, inner peace of one’s mind and soul.

At this time, Quellious came to Master Wu the Enlightened, the only mortal at the time to achieve true enlightenment through a lifelong dedication to tranquility. She raised Master Wu to demi-god status and charged him with the stewardship of the Plane of Serenity and to serve as her emissary of Peace.

Then the invaders to the Planes of Power came. The lesser planes began to blink out of existence as their energy was needed by the greater planes to withstand the assault of the power-hungry mortals. With heavy heart, Quellious came to Master Wu and told him the energy of the Plane of Serenity was needed by the Plane of Tranquility in order to survive and that she would have to reclaim it. Wu knew that this had to be, but asked Quellious for just a small portion of the energy that he may create a planar artifact to further the case of Serenity among the mortals. Quellious agreed to this and Wu set to work.

Master Wu created the Hand of Serenity, a special katar made of five blades. Although it functioned as a weapon, its purpose was much more as a teaching device than an instrument of destruction. Each of the five blades represented an aspect of Serenity and had its planar symbol etched onto it: Peace, Order, Balance, Harmony, and the central, great blade Tranquility. With just an expert’s touch, the five blades could fly open like a fan to demonstrate each individual concept, or swing together to form one harmonious and stronger blade.

Master Wu took the Hand of Serenity and descended to Norrath in order to bestow it upon mortals. He entrusted the blade to the monks of the Ashen Order at their refuge in T’Narev and instructed them that they were to champion the cause of Serenity. They must be the teachers of the world.

The Hand of Serenity was protected by the Ashen Order from generation to generation, used in teaching and instructing in the matters of peace and serenity. It wasn’t until the Battle of Defiance at the closing of the Age of War when the Hand would be carried into battle to fight alongside the forces of good. During the raging battle, the Hand of Serenity struck the Avatar of War with such cosmic force, the katar shattered into its five blades.

Following the great clash, the elders of the Order realized that Serenity was truly missing from the world. They decided that to best spread the word of Peace, Tranquility, and Serenity that they would each take one of the five shattered blades and go out into the world to spread the word of Quellious. They designated a time when they would all come together once again just as the blades would when they were whole. However, when that time came only one of the elders would return to the humble walls of T’Narev. That elder would set out again to the lands of Kunark to find the others. He was never seen again…

Guk Stronghold and Lower Guk

Guk Stronghold

Long ago, in the Elder Age, Warlord Ykesha removed himself from the public eye. He was nowhere to be found, yet, he never left the halls of Guk…

During his absence, Clan Ykesha fell to the might of the Clan Broken Skull. After the carnage, the froglok army entered Guk and captured the fortress city.

The Stronghold of Ykesha is the secret district of the fortress city of Guk. Warlord Ykesha, fearing assassination and the theft of his treasure, built the Stronghold to hide himself and the powerful artifact known as the Grozmok Stone.

During the fighting, the stone would be stolen by Clan Broken Skull, but found its way back to Ykesha during the Age of War. It was also in the Stronghold that the curse which would overtake all of Guk was spawned.

All was quiet while Warlord Ykesha slept, but when adventuring trolls discovered the hidden fortress within a fortress and brought with them the Grozmok stone, Ykesha awoke.

The unfortunate trolls unwittingly brought doom upon themselves, and the rest of the troll nation. Once awakened, Ykesha renewed his efforts to conquer his troll brethren.

The influence of the Prince of Hate can be greatly felt in the Stronghold. The signs can be seen all around in both the decor and the creatures that wander the halls.

Lower Guk

And so it happened that in the age of War the Eternal Warlord, Ykesha, revealed himself to be alive. Or rather, undead. Within the halls of Lower Guk, he sat at the Throne of Might.

From here, he began pushing the mindless undead frogloks into Upper Guk, thinking to cleanse the lower reaches and establishing it as a bunker for his undead troll clan.

Now Lower Guk is occupied by a clan of undead trolls. Warlord Ykesha, however, recruited the intelligent undead frogloks to his cause. Now undead frogloks fight side by side with the new undead Ykesha Clan of Lower Guk.

The district caters to the needs and entertainments of the undead troll clan. There are no sleeping chambers, after all, what need have the dead for sleep… But there is hunger.

Evidence of this can be seen in the horrific chambers that act as slaughterhouses for unwary souls that have been captured in Guk, or sent as sacrifices by the subjugated troll clans of


Tome of Destiny – Chapter V – A Moment of Reflection

The ranger’s footsteps made no sound as he climbed toward the summit. No rock was loosed, no twig snapped; it was as if nature itself carried him along his path.

He reached the top and saw the monk sitting with his back to him. The monk seemed to be looking out over the landscape, the Plains of Karana to the west and the Commonlands to the east. The ranger approached silently, drawing closer to the one he came seeking.

“Welcome, Avatar,” the monk said without turning. “Have the preparations been made?”

The ranger stopped and smiled to himself. “The rangers of Surefall stand ready, while the Knights of Thunder are assembling their forces. And you, my friend, have excellent hearing.”

“It was not my ears that told me you were coming, I assure you. Your skills are unmatched. Karana chose well.”

“I still wonder if that is true,” the ranger replied. “It seems only yesterday that I was merely Askr the Lost, a refugee stranded in a cave in the Plane of Storms. Why would Karana choose someone like me to serve him?”

The monk rose and turned toward the ranger. “It is natural to question yourself, especially when there is so much at stake. But just as I must trust in the wisdom of Quellious, so you must trust in the decision of your master. Whatever you once were, you are now the Avatar of Storms, and you have a duty before you.”

The ranger nodded. “You are right. Please forgive my doubts. When the time comes, I will do what is needed.”

The monk smiled. “I know you will, my friend. May we both prove worthy for the task ahead of us.”

“And what of your preparations, Avatar? Will Freeport be ready?”

The monk’s brow furrowed. “Though few in number, the Knights of Truth will return to defend the city. Their sense of duty is unwavering. It was not so easy to secure the same assurance from the Ashen Order, however. Strife has arisen within their ranks, and many wish to ignore their obligation and remain isolated in their desert fortress. Thankfully I was able to convince them otherwise. As for the city itself, it is as I suspected. The Overlord refuses to believe any army could challenge his reign, and has chosen to ignore the warnings. Still, we can be certain he will defend his borders when he sees he has no other choice left.”

The ranger nodded. “I sensed reluctance on the part of the Bayle family as well. They seem unwilling to accept that the Rallosian Army could be rising again, despite all the evidence shown to them.”

“Kings and dictators see only what they want to see,” the monk said. “But there comes a time when the truth can no longer be ignored. And that time is fast approaching.”

“Aye. The orcs in the north will move soon. I do not believe Halas will be able to withstand their assault.”

“I have similar fears for Gukta. The ogres eye it jealously, and their leader harbors a fierce hatred for the frogloks. But the Guktans refuse to leave the lands they believe Marr gave to them, no matter the cost.”

The ranger moved to the edge of the mountaintop and looked around him. From this peak it seemed he could see to the very ends of Antonica. He sighed and lowered his head. “So much death is coming. Are you sure there is no other way?”

The monk was silent for a moment, then spoke softly yet certainly. “I wish there was another answer, but there is not. Though the gateway to the Realm of Discord was closed, its influence still holds Norrath in its grasp. Balance must be restored to the lands and this Age of War must finally be ended. But there is a terrible price to be paid. Our duty is to see that these two cities survive, for in the dark times ahead, the strength of both will be needed.”

The ranger nodded and faced the monk. “Then we shall not fail. My only regret is that we cannot save more of them.”

The monk closed his eyes and was silent. The ranger watched him, wondering if his ally knew more than he was telling. Minutes passed with no words between them. Finally the monk spoke.

“Listen to that sound, and remember it.”

“What sound?”

“Silence,” the monk said as he turned and walked away from the ranger. “It will not linger long.”

The ranger watched him go, and then he turned back to the peak’s edge. “Nothing does,” he said to the wind. “Nothing does.”