the Left hand of War
The following text is transcribed from the speaking of Egil Iron Wolf, a most ferocious Ulfen from the Lands of the Linnorm Kings. I have written down his words almost without alteration, adding my own comments and clarifications only as appropriate. Though the warrior included certain happenings that I might have left out as inconsequential, had I been the sole author; I did not feel inclined, however, to question the judgment about which he spoke. For ease of use, I have organized the stories in chronological order; IronWolf, however, spoke of them as he happened to think of them. I have left his words virtually untouched by the editor’s pen, as I found his rambling style of speaking most entertaining.
-By the Hand of Khalid Ibn Yazid, Scribe of the Pactmasters of Katapesh and Scholar of al-Kimia.
My name is Egil Iron Wolf and Kalsgard is as close to a home as I have now. My father was a poor former soldier and lumberjack south of Eldentre, where the trees grew great enough to make ship timbers, and my mother worked as a village baker. From an early age, my older brothers and I would accompany my father to the woods, and learn how to swing an axe and the value of a strong back. My oldest brother was killed in when a tree fell the wrong direction and crushed him where he stood. Though the loss was a blow to the family, that tree was used as the main mast of one King Ingimundr’s ships, the Fimbulvetr.
When I was of age, I chose to leave home to enlist in the army of Blood-Eagle, but I did not stay that path. I was on my way to Kalsgard when I had heard the news; news that Eldentre and the surrounding areas had been sacked, burned by an invading force of mercenary warriors and ice trolls from Irrisen.
If I may, sir. It is my understanding that Irrisen is no longer the aggressor and that it is the Ulfen people that push the war, even though the slight was over a thousand years….
Slight?! Slight!? You call the slaughter of my people a slight? I should kill you were you sit, you southern worm! You obviously have no idea of history. Your people must be very stupid.
Many apologies lord. I meant no disrespect! I merely was remembering what I had read in clearly apocryphal and fatuous libraries. Those scholars had no concept of the egregious nature of their errors.
Yes, flatulent libraries. You must have been mistaken. You are a learned man Khalid, and I would hate to see you on a pike for when your mouth runs off without you.
I traveled north and east, through Hagsreach, to join with the Blackravens in the fight against the border of Irrisen, where the magic of the witches that rule there trample on the blood of our ancestors. I joined as a recruit, and fought with them through several glorious battles into the land of the White Witches.
During one such battle, we were not to strike before the command was given. The posturing of it made my blood boil. The warriors with me were proud Ulfen fighting men, not Taldan peacocks or Chelish women. I led the charge, too early it turned out, as it was only us that entered the fray. Many scum that served the White Witches died that day, but so did many of the warriors.
Returning to the camp I was disciplined and nearly killed by the commanding officer, and confined to solitary quarters while they took my boots to make sure I would not be able to escape. The next day they gave me my sword back but told me to leave; that I was for some reason not ready to fight with them. Their price for my immediate life was my boots, which for reasons I soon learned, were as valuable as my weapons. This was a death sentence.
For days I wandered the lands east of Hagsreach near our outposts, trying to find my way to a river or some other landmark. I had wrapped my feet in some rags, but they were frostbitten and bloody. There was nothing to eat in that forsaken land, and even less for shelter.
On one night, I don’t know how many had passed, I heard commotion from the other side of the rock I had sheltered from the wind under. Scrambling out to peer over the stone I saw several men. Savage looking men: Kellids accompanied by one of their massive tusked battle beasts. No doubt these men were coming to fight as mercenaries against my people. I crept around them, not wanting to give away my presence. I struck at one from behind through his furs and my sword met with a sudden sharp bang. He turned on me, surprise in his eyes as the shield rattled on his back. He readied his spear. Just then, the huge beast reared, its rider struggling to keep control. I could see fear in the beast’s eyes as its massive bulk trampled two Kellids, fear that it had seen its death in an Ulfen ready to fight.
I squared off against the warrior in front of me, mostly naked except for a loincloth and fur cloak. The ground shook as the beast rampaged and the warrior stumbled. Gorum had smiled upon me and I took my chance. The Kellid let out a savage scream that was suddenly cut short. The beast let out a shriek as its rider tried to assume control, and ran swiftly away, the earth shaking as it fled.
Looking down, I saw that Gorum had favored me. I took the Kellid’s boots and shield, and with newfound strength against the cold, I set off again. It would be later that day I found the river that I would follow back to our lands, to Kalsgard.
It would be several nights before I made to Kalsgard, and winter had set in fiercely. A storm had settled above Kalsgard and no sign had been seen of it letting up.
“This was when you found yourself in the Temple of Gorum here in Kalsgard, is it not? Isn’t this when you met the others and had your first encounter with Niira?” The Ulfen warrior rubbed a spot on his neck and winced slightly in some sort of memory.