Category Archives: Surefall Glade

The Storm Shepherds – The Calm

This book is one of the Storm Shepherd series titled “The Calm”. It is the story two people from different times and backgrounds and how they join forces to find the answers they’re looking for.
How Danalithenis of Felwithe and Gremius Hazzengrav came to meet is a tale unto itself. Needless to say, were it not for Gremius to have been at the right place at the right time, Danalithenis would not be part of this new tale. Danalithenis, suffering from grievous wounds, was just barely saved from the clutches of death by the atoning Gremius.

Gremius looked at Danalithenis, caught sight of his wounds, and offered the elf his last healing potion. Once Danalithenis was healed, the man introduced himself to the elf and offered to help him escape the island. Listening to the human’s tale, Danalithenis accepted the offer, and they both sailed off into the turbulent ocean.

Over the next several weeks as they sailed aimlessly, Gremius would fill in Danalithenis on what he missed during the centuries he was gone. Danalithenis would learn that the gods have left the world, or so many people believed. Gremius professed that, due to his visions, he wasn’t necessarily sure that was the case.

Danalithenis listened to Gremius as he described the vision and then told the man of the Surefall Glade. He said to Gremius that he thinks the old man was Karana, but had no idea what the darkness represented. After staring long and hard at Gremius, Danalithenis stated that he believed the story and would accompany him until the human found the truth he was seeking.

Danalithenis and Gremius traveled for what seemed like months, maybe even years, across the endless oceans. They would stop at every island they found, both to replenish their water stores and to look for game. During this time, they became very good friends.

As they landed at each island, Gremius was amazed at how much the world of Norrath could change so often from island to island. Danalithenis would sometimes pose theories as to where he believed they were, using odd names such as the Feerrott, or Lavastorm, or even Everfrost. Where Gremius was constantly in awe of the sights, Danalithenis saw a world destroyed.

Finally Danalithenis couldn’t take it anymore and asked Gremius what had happened to Faydwer, to the Greater Faydark… to Felwithe. Gremius looked at Danalithenis for a moment, and said in a sympathetic tone, “All of it was destroyed in the Rending, friend. As sure as the moon is in the sky, there is no more Faydwer”. This was all Danalithenis needed to hear. He stepped inside his cabin and began to cry.

Several days after their last conversation, Danalithenis spotted an island off in the distance covered in trees. They were both as excited as each other, but yet they were both hoping to find something different. As they made landfall, they gathered their gear and started to explore, both believing this to be their destination. When they were deep enough into the trees, they found a surprise that neither one were expecting.

As they approached a calm pool of water, they spotted a person on the other side of the pool, sitting motionless. Aside from each other, they had seen no real people in countless months. As they stepped closer, they were able to make out that it wasn’t just a person, but rather a child. Finally, as they got within several feet of the person, Danalithenis uttered the word, “Halfling”.

At that very moment, the old halfling opened her eyes. She explained that she was in deep meditation with the forest around her. She also looked at the two, gave her name as Tammin Whipperwillow, and said she had been waiting for them.

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.

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!

Rise of the Orcs – The Ascension

“Rise of the Orcs – The Ascension”
Second Edition

This book details how the orcs would organize into armies the likes of which had not been seen on Norrath for millennia.

The following historical account details what stories would describe as the main turning point in the rise of the orcs. No longer primal savages, the orcs would organize into armies the like that hadn’t been seen on Norrath for millennia. Several accounts of thus time period still exist in varying forms, which have been condensed together within this volume.

Snow Orcs: Launching a surprise attack on both Surefall Glade and Qeynos at the same time, the Snow Orcs would attempt to divide the two cities. Sending wave after wave of gnoll suicide squads against the two people, the orcs directed the attack against the humans. Employing frighteningly effective tactics, the destruction caused by the orcs would seem to be amplified by the man leading them – a being engulfed in fire.

As the invasion would wear on, the gnoll’s numbers would be decimated – leaving behind only women and children in Blackburrow. The Avatar of Flame would ultimately send the signal that would spell the doom for Qeynos. Having suffered major losses to the gnolls, the human city would stand no chance against the orcish hordes marching straight for them. Were it not for a miracle that happened that day, Qeynos would not be standing.

As the Snow Orc horde began their charge, a great rumbling was felt in the earth. It intensified to the point of toppling many of the nearby towers. When the dust settled, the armies of Qeynos gazed upon a huge hole in the land where the hordes once stood. Slowly they realized that the very earth had swallowed the entire orc army. They watched in amazement as the ground began to reform, leaving no trace that there was ever a rift in the earth. Even with this turn of events, the war was far from over.

The Avatar of Flame, somehow avoiding the great sinkhole, still stood with only a few remaining orcish troops. The Qeynosians, having suffered severe losses from the invasion, would then see their second miracle that day. Approaching from the north, the combined forces of the Knights of Thunder and the Druids of Surefall were riding to join the ranks of Qeynos – being led by the Avatar of Storms. Unbeknownst to the human forces, however, was that the Avatar of Flame had reinforcements of his own. And they, too, had just arrived.

Deathfist Orcs: Though they had just traveled many leagues to join with their Rallosian brethren, the Deathfist orcs would find that the war in the south had changed since they were called. Already controlling the Innothule swamp, the Rallosian Army had now set their sights on new targets. Splitting the forces into two armies, one would sweep to the west being led by the Rallosian Warlord. The other, being led by Emperor Gash and the Avatar of War, would return to the north. Rather than being upset by the change in direction, the orcs were looking forward to what was to come.

Traveling back through the desert wasteland the orcs had just devastated, the Rallosians would remark upon the efficiency of the orcs’ work. Sometime during the march, Emperor Gash would send several platoons towards the hills, but not offering to explain why. When questioned, he would reply that the ogres needn’t worry about having enough troops when they reached their destination.

Though working together as allies, the orcs and the ogres would maintain wide berths during the march. This would prove a stroke of luck for the Rallosians, but not for the Deathfists. As they the armies passed into an open stretch of desert, the Rallosians would watch as tens of thousands of orcs would instantly be swallowed by the sand in one fell swoop. Though a devastating loss to the Deathfist Empire, Emperor Gash informed the Rallosians and the Avatar of War that all was not lost. For, he claimed, the orcs he brought with him were only one half of the Empire. The other half were already waiting at their destination.

Finally reaching their destination, the remaining orcs and the Rallosians joined with the other half of the Deathfist Empire. Employing the tactics of the orcs and the unstoppable might of the Rallosians, the Avatar of War began preparing for battle against their target – the great city of Freeport. When the assault was set to begin, the Avatar of War gazed upon Freeport and watched as thousands of Militia gathered to defend the walls. The battle was about to begin.

The orcs, once viewed as a petty annoyance, would rise from primitive savagery to tactical genius. Ancient tales that told of their former greatness were oft overlooked as being nothing more than fairy tales. Norrath would come to know that the stories were actually true, and were more attention paid to them, they would have known that the orcs had “returned” to Norrath. And their “return” would be forever burned into the memory by the part they played in the War of Defiance.

Into the Depths of: Blackburrow

Overview of Blackburrow

Nestled between Qeynos Hills and the peaks of Everfrost to the north, Blackburrow is the present day home of the Sabertooth Gnoll clan. The Sabertooths are known for the constant raids upon the city of Qeynos. The city of Qeynos and Surefall Glade continue to send out hunting parties to try to purge the threat.

Background Lore

In the past, over 500 hundred years ago, the original excavation of the deepest level was done by a group of dwarves long since forgotten to time. Evidence of their superior stonework is still be found in sections of the complex, although their purpose within this region of Norrath remains as mysterious as their fate.

The Sabertooth Clan originated in the Jaggedpine Forest, but migrated to the hills just beyond the evergreen woodland’s borders. There they found the abandoned Blackburrow complex at a time when then-nomadic people of Jaggedpine were inexorably driving them out of the forest. The Sabertooths retreated to the complex and made their stronghold as conflict with the human settlers began to reach dangerous levels.

The Sabertooth clan has remained active in the area now known as Qeynos Hills since before the construction of the great human city of Qeynos. It was around the time that Antonius Bayle, the Great Unifier and the patriarch of this famed namesake, united the coastal settlement of Oceangreen with human clans in the regions of the Karana plains and the Jaggedpine Forest that the construction of Qeynos began.

When Oceangreen was first created, the yet to be named, Qeynos Hills was home to several different clans of gnolls. The largest of these clans, the Sabertooth clan, was the only clan violent towards human settlers. However, this violence would not hinder the construction of what would become the jewel of the human race.

One generation later, Antonius Bayle II, the Great Defender, appointed Gynok Captain of the Tower Guard. Captain Gynok Moltar would order small units of his guards to slay the gnolls in Qeynos Hills, unbeknownst to his superior and commander. It was well know that Gynok despised the gnolls, who had slain his parents years before. Gynok would later cut off High Shaman Opalla’s hand during the elder gnolls’ attempt to make a treaty of peace with the humans. This led to the eternal war between the citizens of Qeynos and the Sabertooths.


Blackburrow is a very dangerous place to be for a young adventurer. Gnolls, when in trouble will flee to find help. A gnoll that you let flee may bring back many of its brethren to finish you off.

Beyond the dangers of the gnoll inhabitants of the complex, the terrain itself poses many hazards to unwary adventures and travelers. The area has become rather unstable and chaotic in its layout since the arrival of the gnolls. They have not upheld the meticulous dwarven architecture of the original structure and their own modifications to the site have resulted in many dangerously unpredictable oddities.

Wooden bridges are narrow and oftentimes careless constructed, leaving those who are not quick and attentive to fall to the dangers below. Upon the surface level of the burrow, there are two specific dangers that have claimed the lives of many an adventurer. One of the several trees is in fact a secret passage to the lower level of the gnolls’ den; however, this passage has been left in ruin and is but a steep shaft that has caused many a traveler to plummet to their death.

The second notable danger is the great pit that extends to the bows of the burrow and takes up nearly the entirety of the burrow’s surface level. Travelers are advised to be wary of this pit, for the only way to escape the water below is to trek through the hostile depths of burrow that lead back to the surface.

Gnoll Commanders

The gnoll commanders are the most powerful of Blackburrow’s defenses. They are great warriors, despite the mundane and almost debase appearance of their weapons when compared to the mighty steel of Norrath’s more fearsome foes. It would be foolish to engage one of Blackburrow’s most adept warriors without proper respect for these creates as true adversaries of notable strength.


On the Town of: Surefall Glade

Overview of Surefall Glade

Located inside the southeastern edge of the Jaggedpine Forest, and just outside of Qeynos Hills, the Surefall Glade is home to the human and half elf rangers and druids of Tunare. This glade is allied with Qeynos and is formerly part of its territory, although the rangers and druids enjoy self-rule, operating outside the laws and regulations that are enforced by Qeynos.

The glade itself is very beautiful, peaceful place described by a high wall of granite that separates it from the rest of the Jaggedpine Forest. Many enormous redwoods may be found here, limiting the amount of sunlight that enters the defense woodlands. A small, crystalline pond can be found in the glade, fed by a gentle waterfall pouring over a massive cliff.

Overlooking the pond, the granite cliffs contain a system of winding caves where the bears of the glade reside with the unfailing protection of the Jaggedpine Treefolk and the Protectors of the Pine. In one section of the caves, deep crystal pools of water cover the ground, having somehow seeped into the cave system from nearby Hatchling River. In most instances, the caves are extremely peaceful and quite lovely, but one must be careful not to invoke the bears’ tempers, else one finds himself not only a the mercy of the ferocious creatures, but of the Jaggedpine Treefolk as well.

The rangers and druids have put up several buildings within this cozy corner of the vast Jaggedpine Forest. Their small wooden and stonework structures do nothing to compromise the natural purity of the region. Near a crystalline pond, the rangers can be found practicing their art – archery. The druids live inside the glade’s largest redwood, having settled within an enormous gap that formed in the ancient tree centuries ago.


Surefall Glade has guildmasters for druids and rangers only. Spell and tome merchants are also available for those classes. Here is a list of the main guildmasters:

Te’Anara – (Druid)
Hager Sureshot – (Ranger)

City Resources

Surefall Glade provides limited necessities of adventuring: a banker, a Tribute Master, augmentation needs, and merchants that sell backpacks, ale, bandages, food, drink, and fishing gear.

You’ll also find a forge, a half elf forge, and supply merchants for baking, fletching, blacksmithing, and fishing.

Places of Interest

Protectors of the Pine

The Protectors of the Pine is the ranger’s guild of Surefall Glade. Along with the Jaggedpine Treefolk, they protect the wild bears and wolves of Surefall Glade and its surroundings. They are well respected among the Qeynos Guard and serve in the militia when needed. The leader of the Protectors of the Pine is Hager Sureshot.

Jaggedpine Treefolk

The Jaggedpine Treefolk is the druid’s guild of Surefall Glade. They are loyal to the ways of Tunare, the Mother of All. The leader of the Jaggedpine Treefolk is Te’Anara.

Poachers have been infiltrating the Jaggedpine for bearskins for many years. The wildlife of the forest is plentiful and attracts the scum. They do not realize that the stock is plentiful thanks to the efforts of the Protectors of the Pine to keep poachers out. Corun Finisc warns intruders to heed the wishes of Tunare and leave the bears of Surefall Glade undisturbed.


The Hole Uncovered: Elementals Attack Vol. II

“Suddenly, Al’Kabor found his feet had sunk into the ground a good foot or so and he was unable to walk. Surrounding him on four sides were small creatures that appeared to be made of earth itself. They grabbed at his robes and began pummeling him with their fists of rock and dirt. Without even thinking, blinded by the sheer audacity of these creatures to even dare assault the mighty Al’Kabor and dirty his best robe, he begun to summon forth the magical energy to unleash his wrath upon these creatures. The small elementals, standing no taller then the shortest halfling, were each blasted to bits by the sheer power of the energy released in all directions by the mighty wizard. Clods of dirt and pebbles flying through the air were the only evidence that the creatures were even there a moment before. “”Why are these elementals all over the place?”” He pulled his feet free from the ground and walked over to a cleric of Rodcet Nife who was tending to another victim of the elemental attack who faired far worse then the wizard. He asked, “”You! Cleric! Did these elementals rise from the ground or did somebody summon all of these?”” The cleric finished bandaging the wounded traveler and said hurriedly, “”Sir, I have no idea. Excuse me, many are hurt or in peril from this attack. I must take my leave.”” Al’Kabor shouted to no one in particular, “”Bah! I’d gather more information from a wall then I would from you people!”” He continued to walk up the stone path. Here and there earth elementals were assaulting folks outside the city in the hills of Qeynos. The Jagged Pine Treefolk from Surefall Glade were on full alert. The rangers and druids that called the glade home were doing their best to stem the tide of the elemental invasion. Wandering the hills, Al’Kabor walked about blasting any elemental he came across to kingdom come. He did this not in defense of the hills nor for any sort of loyalty to the fine city of Qeynos but more in retaliation for his days of lost work and as therapy for the general feeling of rage and displeasure he was experiencing. Today was not a good day at all and it was about to get much worse. “

Tome of Destiny – Chapter VIII – Gathering Storms

Urduuk stood atop the crest of the hill and gazed out across the grasslands to the south. The scattered orc villages that dotted the landscape were completely obscured by the legions of ogres and orcs that made up the Rallosian Army. As far as his eye could see were soldiers awaiting his command. This pleased him.

“They are ready, Lieutenant Ignara. Tomorrow we begin the march across the sands that lead us to Freeport. And when we arrive, we will burn it to the ground.”

“Aye, General,” she replied. “Spies sent by the Rujarkian Orcs tell us that Freeport is ill prepared for our arrival and will fall quickly. Still, I think it unlikely that Lucan knows nothing of our army’s approach. He may be baiting a trap.”

“Ridiculous!” Urduuk growled through bared teeth. “D’Lere is a fool, and his city will crumble as easily as Gukta did. I will defile his throne just as I desecrated the Temple of Cazic-Thule. Rallos Zek has ordained our victory and promised this world to me. I will rule over the ashes of Norrath until my father returns.”

“Your… father?” she asked hesitantly.

“Of course. I am the son and heir of Zek, given the unholy blade Vel’Arek as a symbol of my power. Do you doubt my lineage and birthright, Ignara?” Urduuk drew the sword and locked his burning eyes on hers.

Ignara watched him breathlessly. She knew what fate befell those who disagreed with Urduuk.

“I have no doubt, my lord and master,” she said, bowing her head. “You are the true son of Zek.”

He gripped the dark blade tightly in his hand. She believed he might swing it at any moment, leaving her head on display to show how he rewarded those who failed him. Instead, he sheathed the sword.

“Order the troops to camp. We leave at first light and make our way across the Desert of Ro.”

“By your order, General,” she replied. “Do we march on T’Narev?”

“No,” Urduuk replied. “Laying siege to the Ashen Order’s mountain fortress would be a waste of time and resources. Let the Rujarkians take them when Freeport smolders in ruins.”

Ignara dared not question him again, even if she thought it unwise to ignore the threat posed by the monks. “It will be as you command, my lord.” She saluted and headed down the hill.

Urduuk surveyed his army again. He knew the others in the west were ready as well. “Mine,” he told himself. “Soon it will all be mine.”

“They’re coming!” Niffet cried as he approached the gates. “They’re coming!”

His horse was still at a gallop as he rode in, but the halfling pulled hard at the reigns to bring her to a quick stop. He jumped off the horse’s back and yelled again. “The Rallosians are coming!”

The city guards circled him. “Identify yourself!” the captain ordered.

“I am Niffet of Surefall, commanded to stand watch over the plains. I was ordered to bring word when the armies of darkness approached.”

“Ordered by whom?” the captain asked.

“By me,” a voice replied.

The captain turned and saw the ranger standing before him. He was dressed in dark green chain mail, a longbow of ornate wood slung on his back. The buckle on his belt bore the symbol of the Rainkeeper.

“Avatar,” Niffet said, kneeling, “it has come to pass, just as you said it would.”

“Arise, Niffet,” the ranger said. “Tell me what you saw.”

The halfling stood. “I was camped in one of the old guard towers, watching. I saw dark shapes lurking on the horizon. It was as if the mountains themselves were drawing closer, but it was not mountains. It was a wall of giants coming from the east, and from the south came ogres with their gnoll slaves. There were so many, so very many.”

“You have done well. My watchers to the north have informed me that the orcs control Blackburrow and are starting to come through. The Rallosians have begun their march toward Qeynos.”

The guard captain nodded. “Lord Bayle told us you would come to lead us, Avatar. Our forces stand ready to defend the city.”

“Good,” said the ranger. “Seal the gates and put all your troops on alert. I will attempt to give us some more time.”

“How?” asked the captain.

The ranger reached up and took hold of a pendant around his neck. He whispered an incantation and the blue gem began to glow. In the distance, thunder rumbled across the plains.

“The storms will slow them down, but not for long. We must prepare.”

“Seal the gate!” ordered the captain. The giant doors of wood and steel began to slowly draw closed. The captain turned and gave instructions to his men.

“There were so many of them, Avatar,” Niffet said to the ranger. “How can we hold them back?”

The ranger said nothing, listening as the thunder drew nearer.

Betrayed! it hissed. Betrayed!

It stirred in the darkness, locked away for so long. Shapeless. Lingering. Cold. Alone.

You have forgotten. You shall be made to remember. You will be taught just like the others who harmed his children.

The ritual was complete. The gift was unsealed. The lesson was coming.

Defiler! You will know Fear until the end of time!

It seeped out. Billowing. Rolling. Moving. Growing.

His gift will find you. His gift will find you all.

The green cloud arose in the temple’s stale air. It moved through the corridors, slowly at first, then faster. It would touch the first of them soon.

Betrayed! it hissed again. But now you will learn.

It would have smiled, if only it had a face.

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.”