Hunters and wolves
The militiawoman's face was neutral, but her hand rested on the head of her axe.
The hairy man flinched away slightly as she reached for him, grimacing, twisting his face into what he obviously intended to be a disarming grin. All he managed to do was make her even more certain he was up to something - the grin accentuated his staring yellow-tinged eyes, and his broken teeth.
"No no no officer, it is nothing, nothing to worry about." he tried to reassure her. "Just a head. A pig head. Yes! Just a pig head for my supper!"
The man glared at her, and clutched the bag protectively.
"Don't try to steal it now!"
The militiawoman looked past the drooling beggar to her two companions. Ranulf peered down into the ditch and then jumped back, swearing. He began to run down along the path to where Jeanna stood, waving his arms, shouting. The man looked back over his shoulder to see what was going on, his brow furrowing.
Jeanna took an executive decision and grabbed the sack away from the beggar-man while he was distracted. It was surprisingly heavy. She tipped it out, and two human heads thudded onto the snow. Her stomach lurched.
As soon as she took the sack, the maniac stopped capering and launched himself at her, howling like a cornered wolf. He tore at her face with his broken, bloody nails and tried to get his hands around her neck.
Ranulf reached them just as Jeanna stopped beating him unconscious.
"The ditch was full of bodies," he said breathlessly, then looked down at the prone figure. "Is he dead?""Not yet," said Jeanna..She gingerly touched the bruise on the side of her neck. "But I think we might have solved the mystery of the Hahnmark strangler..."
Three incidents involving Winter eternals have been brought to the attention of the Imperial citizenry in the last few months. The Tomb-King Sorin has dispatched a herald to recruit participants for a trial of suffering. The Bound-King Tharim of the Thrice-cursed Court has taken advantage of the recent Declaration of Amity to send heralds to the Empire. In Hahnmark, an agent of Wendigo is captured while trying to sow discord and distrust between Wintermark and Varushka.
It is my duty to organise the Trials of the Pallid Charm.
These trials concern themselves with hard choices and suffering, which will be of no surprise to those who understand the concerns of the Tomb King. Nominations for the trial are open to those who have an aching need that drives them. This dark and barren ache is often carved out of past suffering, of wrongs survived, and sharpened to a hungry bite with time. Some nurture it, others suppress it. Those who face the trials of the Pallid Charm will need to be ready to face the truths that lie in the pits of their bellies and the marrow of their bones. Through the trials the Empty One will choose where his aid might best be placed, and what sacrifice should be asked in return for that aid.
In this year of 381YE we wish to be sure all who might wish to court the attention of The Hungry Wolf in order to progress in these trials have the opportunity. So we will place in your Hall of Worlds a locked and chained box in which you may place a name during the Friday evening of this Equinox. You may nominate yourself or another, by giving a full name and known associations as well as detailing one or two places in Anvil where the so named individual is likely to be found on the Saturday and Sunday of this Equinox. Do not write of suffering or of needs or ambitions, such writing at this time will be ignored. Our agent, Ania of Necropolis will seek you out and speak with you and hear those tales. She will recommend to us a small number from among you to go forwards to the first Trial at the Winter Solstice.
The Trials of the Pallid Wolf
- The grim eternal Sorin seeks participants in a trial of hard choices and suffering.
When the soberly dressed draughir arrives at the Castle of Thorns shortly before the Autumn Equinox she is at first assumed to be bringing messages from Highguard Senators. It is quickly established, however, that she is actually acting as a messenger on behalf of a herald of Sorin named Exquy - presumably on behalf of the Hungry Wolf himself. She politely asks that the message she delivers be circulated to as many Imperial Citizens as possible; and the civil service have tried to make this letter available to anyone who may be interested.
It is clear that Sorin is not offering a general means of communication with this offer. Any information other than the specific details requested are likely to be ignored by the human agent and heralds alike.
The First Trial of the Pallid Charm is a tent encounter with good wheelchair access available and optional seating. It is not well lit by default and uses some smoke effects, though we can amend both these on request. (just add this OOC request to your IC details when submitting them). It is designed as a high stress experience and this cannot be changed due to the nature of the Eternal. Although combat is possible dependant on player action, the trial operates IC rules to ensure that safe and fair declarations of non combatant status are possible should combat break out. Subsequent trials will base their accessibility on the needs of participants that progress.
In the Copse of the Bone Birch
Three weeks after the Summer Solstice, three peculiar creatures emerge from a stand of birch trees in Birchland, near the village of Bickwoll. Known as the Copse of the Bone Birch, the area is part of a Winter regio. Wrapped in black cloaks, each one is accompanied by the clank of chains and shows the marks of mortification on their bodies. They are by all accounts heralds of the eternal Tharim.
Their appearance interrupts the ceremonial watering of the birch trees - a ritual designed to protect the local trees from disease and parasites - and causes some consternation. In cold, arrogant tones they explain to the gathered coven that their presence is in accord with the wishes of the Imperial Conclave. They then split up. One heads north, the other east, and while Beaters manage to follow them for a while they soon lose them in the dark woods.
The third creature, calling itself Obligatus picks an old stump near the middle of the regio, sits down ... and doesn't move for two months. Landskeeper Benjamin Bickwoll is keeping a close eye on the situation and has grumpily allowed that he might be prepared to receive and maybe even answer any winged messengers any other Landskeepers might want to send to him. (OOC NOTE: Benjamin Bickwoll, the Copse of the Bone Birch, near Bickwoll, Birchland, Upwold should do it.)
The Varushkan National Assembly support our allies in Wintermark. The rumours of assault and mutilation on the bodies of Wintermark citizens have been investigated and found to be the work of a common enemy bound to create division between our nations. Varushka stands with Wintermark, proud citizens of the Empire, Loyal allies.Rooslan Stanvich Prochnost, Varushkan Assembly, Summer Solstice 381YE, Upheld 120 - 10
The Wintermark Assembly support our allies in Varushka. The rumours of assault and mutilation on the bodies of Wintermark citizen have been investigated and found to be the work of a common enemy bound to create division between our nations. Wintermark stand with Varushka. Proud citizens of the Empire and Loyal allies.Ylmiska Ferbow, Wintermark Assembly, Summer Solstice 381YE, Upheld 178 - 0
The Hahnmark Strangler
In recent months there have been various lurid reports of mutilated corpses in Skarsind and neighbouring parts of Wintermark. These reports have been investigated thoroughly by the Imperial magistrates who discovered that several of the reported acts were the work of a deranged fanatic, a devotee of the Wendigo who lost all reason in a terrible storm a few winters back. The individual had murdered at least one person and appeared to be deliberately defiling bodies.
The individual has been caught, tried and executed and there is no reason to expect any further influence from Wendigo on this matter. It appears that his intentions were to try and deepen the divisions between Wintermark and Varushka arising from the incident with Dogri Thulebane and the Iron Helms. Fortunately these attempts appear to have conclusively failed.
This entry is not a plot - but rather an in-character explanation for in-character events that came to light at recent events in which the Iron Helms were accused of mutilating bodies. The source of the stories was a player who had not intended to deceive anyone but had unfortunately misinterpreted the nature of the ongoing events and assumed that it would be ok to create personal events to reflect them. It is usually fine for players to check minor background elements in response to ongoing events but it is always important to check with us before creating events of this significance - so that we can confirm if they are consistent with the campaign or not.