The original chapters 1-5 were on the old forums, but I figured having them all in one place wouldn't be a terrible thing. All new chapters will be in this thread. Yes, there's new chapters. Finally. ^^;
***Warning for minor language, and some dirty speak, but nothing too explicit. Also, somewhat graphic combat depictions.***
***Decklan Brey is property of Phawksy. Kim Jae Hoon belongs to GuyWidaThing. Joseph Blanc belongs to EOJBakura. Bladebite belongs to Askew37. All original story, Skarlani, and assorted obvious NPCs are creation of KujakuDM.***
***Any and all references to the Iron Kingdoms, locations therein, races, classes, or themes belonging to the setting, are all property of Privateer Press, who may or may not be constructed out of concentrated awesome.***
Book 1: Infernal Callings
The road south was long and hard, and the brisk, wet, fall weather was unforgiving. Darkness crawled away slowly, giving way to the gray haze of morning, as birds chirped nervously in the trees, twittering away, fretting over the frost to come.
Plodding slowly, methodically through the mud, a pair of big, brown boots squished into the wet earth and did not wish to leave it. Each step an effort to wrench the soles of the boots from the cold embrace of the muddy trail, a very small, lean figure cloaked in brown made its way down the dark, wet trail southward from Laedry, the last city those big boots had clomped through on their way down from the Burningfrost Plains. A pair of large, red eyes gleamed in the morning haze, bright and sharp beneath the shadow of a big, brown cloak, a wide mouth with small, sharp fangs pointing up from the lower jaw, peeking over a set of thin, small, grey-green lips set in a hard line, stoic against the chilly air. Adjusting the pack shouldered under his cloak, the figure searched the distance for signs of life. Over a set of hills in the distance, soft, blue smoke rose over the hilltops, drifting quietly into the silent, grey morning.
Blowing unruly brown locks from his eyes, a thin young man made his way through the brisk pre-morning, his eyes ever flicking back and forth, his stride great out of an obvious paranoia. Goggles perched on his forehead, and his black great coat wrapped around him like a second skin, he wore a pack laden with trinkets and blankets and a bedroll, as well as the clinking cans of iron rations making their tinny sounds with each step he took. Clasped tight in one hand sat a gold coin, bearing the radiance of Morrow on its head, and the brand of Thamar on its tail. The man looked down to the coin in his hand, then back up to the land stretched out before him. The road from Midfast, while short, was hard, muddy, and cold. The days of summer had long faded, with fall in full swing, the man could only shiver as the chill licked up his sleeves and slithered through any *****s in his armour against the elements. A ways away, the soft trails of smoke denoting civilization curled their way through the twilight. The man smirked, and tucked a lock of hair behind his ear, before flipping the gold coin in the moist morning air, catching it as it fell and slapping it atop the back of his left hand. Eyebrow raised, he regarded the radiance looking up at him, nodded as if the coin’s answer were the most rational thing he’d ever heard, and continued along the path, tucking the coin into his coat pocket.
Walking with great strides through the pleasantly humid morning fog, a muscular man wrapped in white, flowing garb traversed the countryside like a man on a mission. His black hair trimmed short to his head, his eyes bright, and his chin high, he carried a modest pack containing some rations and a bedroll. Around his neck hung a cord from which dangled a small wooden carving of the radiance of Morrow. His keen eyes on the horizon, the man spied signs of civilization. Down South they seemed keen to pass off the traveler northward, sending him to better defend the people and seek out glory up north at the border. The call for heroes had been put out, and he had come to answer. Here, there would truly be an opportunity to be a real hero, and help people. His gait increased as he spied chimneys and smoke dancing on the morning skyline.
Dawn over Fellig was always a strange time. Portents of woe and weal come whispering on the morning fog, telling sweet half-truths of the war on its doorstep. Sitting at the crux between warring nations, between Cygnar and its ally Ord, and the great motherland of Khador, there was no longer a concept of peace or calm in the city of Fellig. It was this ever-oppressive layer of tension awash over the city that welcomed Joseph Blanc when he awoke that morning.
Rising from his lumpy bed in his modest home, Joseph squinted hard, crumpling his face in discontent as he eyed the young dawn crawling through his dirty, soot-caked window. Dropping back down onto his pillow with an audible plap, he stared at the ceiling, trying to claw his way out of sleep’s intoxicating clutches. Morning always came so early.
After finally rousing himself from his slumber, Joseph took care of his morning hygiene routine, which consisted of cleaning his mouth out and running a gap-toothed comb through his bowl-cut brown hair in an attempt to stave off the wicked case of bed-head he had contracted during the night. Dressing in his simple work clothes, he quickly grabbed a day-old chunk of pound cake he’d left in the breadbox from the night before and shoved it into his mouth as he got to work on pulling on his leather armour and buckling in.
Securing his trusty crossbow on his belt, Joseph inspected himself in the dust-covered mirror in his bedroom before plopping his helmet down atop his head, letting out one last crumb-mouthed yawn, and heading out the door to the guardhouse, to work.
Weary, bloodshot eyes reflected the quiet green glow of runes engraved in stone, their magic pulsing through the rock and into the earth below it, like the heartbeat of a great beast. Their language was older than memory could even try to keep up with, but their meaning had an all-too-new importance. A thin, gnarled, worn hand laid itself down upon the stone, feeling the heartbeat as it shook in quiet tremors. The owner of said hand, a black-cloaked figure, knelt over the stone, his voice tinged with phlegm and a thick Khardic accent as he recited the ancient words over and over, pouring his very faith into the act, trying to quiet his body’s protesting paroxysms as he did his work.
The heartbeat of the magic throbbed through the ground and into the trees, the forest feeling for all the world like a single living entity, as the magic pulsed through the smallest weeds and the mightiest oaks. It was a primal palpitation that served as a warning for all who walked, crawled, flew, swam, or slithered within its borders.
You are not welcome any longer.