Wednesday, September 11, 2013
All that winter we starved. We starved along with our neighbors and our livestock. What little food we had was stolen from us by the heartless animals working for Baba Yaga. My mother died that winter, of sorrow or shame, along with my two youngest sisters. My brother had died fighting in the Tsar's army the year before, and in the end it was too much for my father. He went mad with grief and fled screaming into the howling winter. Alone and desperate, I packed what little I could carry and left my home. I had heard that far to the south, somewhere in the sea, was an island paradise where people fleeing the war were gathered. With nothing left to lose, I headed south to see if the stories were true.
Monday, September 2, 2013
In the ages before the Bane War, mortals and fey only had limited interactions. Most of humanity—even those who were devoted to the Enochian Faith—recognized that there were creatures that dwelt at the fringes of human perception. Some called them nature spirits, others called them little people, and a few recognized them as beings of power. Regardless of their name, all who knew of them knew that they were capricious and volatile. Some among the fey could be generous—legends of rescuing orphaned children, recovering lost goods, or protecting innocents from predators abounded. Others, however, were less kind, including those who stole children, took precious items, or treated humans as little more than chattel. The challenge to anyone who had a chance to interact with these beings was to identify the friendlier fey—known as the seelie—from the treacherous, unseelie fey.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Creatures who have a semblance of life beyond the grave were only legends before the coming of the Morrigan to Cairn Kainen. The Witch brought an artifact with her that had power over death itself; a dreaded item known as the Dark Cauldron. Once a dead body was placed into the cauldron, it rose again as an undead being; a cruel parody of the life it once held. These beings were known as the cauldron-born. They left behind all semblance of their former lives and existed only as slaves to the Morrigan’s will. Powered by the cauldron and guided by the Morrigan’s necromantic witchcraft, uncountable numbers of cauldron-born were created during the conquest of Morden. Since the fall of the Alliance, the Morrigan’s task has been less urgent, and she has vastly slowed the pace of cauldron-born production.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Brother Malakai moved about the claustrophobic shelves of the ancient library at Westyn Priory. The Golem's heavy step rang from the worn, polished stone tiles and echoed high in the vaulted ceiling. His work in the library was a great comfort to him. The solitude, the smell of old leather and parchment, the faint echo of plainchant from the far-off chapel – all helped to soothe his troubled mind and, at least temporarily, insulate him from the horror of his existence. As he plodded through a dimly lit intersection between shelves, a figure stepped from the shadow and laid a light hand on the Golem's forearm. With all the frightening, deceptive speed of an avalanche, Brother Malakai pushed his attacker away with one broad hand while the other went reflexively for the heavy, broad-bladed cutlass that no longer hung from his belt. He relaxed at once as he saw the short, swarthy form step more fully into the light and smile.
Monday, August 12, 2013
When the first settlers crossed the lightning bridge to Morden, they brought the Enochian Religion with them. Not all were devout followers—particularly those who settled in what eventually became Hyphrates—but the religion was well established and had already existed for thousands of years. The central focus of their belief involves a single, all-powerful creator who made the world of Saturnyn and continues to oversee it. The religion is monotheistic, and holds that their Creator shall return to provide the world its ultimate salvation in their moment of greatest need.
Friday, August 9, 2013
The true threat of the Witches’ invasion was not felt throughout Morden until the Outlands were fully overrun; this signaled the beginning of the Bane War. With the border realms completely under the Witches’ domination, the rulers of Morden's nations knew that something had to be done lest they face the same fate. King Stefan Hightower II of Valkenholm sent couriers to all the other realms of Morden, soliciting support for building a military alliance to face the Witches’ army. Under King Stefan’s leadership, Valkenholm became the staging ground for a counterattack against the Grand Coven.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
I've lived with the sea my whole life, just like my father and his father and his father before him. I've done everything a man can do in this world on the sea. I hunted sabreback whales in the cold waters north of Steppengrad. I sailed under the flag of Manreia against the black thieves of Port Sorrow. I won and lost a dozen fortunes before I was thirty years old, and I have no regrets. Life is simpler out here, better, healthier. Even before the Witches came, a life at sea was preferable to that of a life trapped on the land. On the sea there's the swell and the tide, the wind and the waves, and good, honest seamen. There are no lawyers or bailiffs or bums come to take you to a sponging house over the sum of a few pennies. No land sharks to trick you out of your money, nor wives or in-laws either. It's a good life. Hard at times, sure, and dangerous, but it's worth it to be free.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
We were once a peaceful, happy people who cared little for what went on outside of our borders. We lived with the land, content to tend to our olive groves and raise our families. There was strife of the usual kind of course, corruption in government and feuding with our neighbors, especially the villains in Hyphrates. Overall we had it better than the people did in most places, though. Our land was neither as decadent as Manreia nor as backwards and corrupt as our neighbors to the East. For the most part, we got along well with the world.
Monday, July 29, 2013
Once a student of the crazed inventor Herr Doktor Franken Von Nachtmachen, Aureliano De Acosta completed his apprenticeship shortly after the beginning of the Great War. As a recognized master inventor, he was a member of Manreia's tradesmen caste. It was his responsibility to see that the nation's trains ran effectively and to continue the development of Manreia's transportation system.
Monday, July 22, 2013
As one of the first areas settled in all of Morden, the earliest colonists had boundless opportunities to select an idyllic locale. These eager explorers chose to take advantage of the gulf sheltered by the southern extension of the Darkfall Peaks, and the bounty of the Iteru River. Finding fertile grasslands, a warm climate, and a navigable waterway, Ur-Xandria became a thriving city in only a few years. In short order, its culture expanded up the river, as the city grew and the population expanded beyond the delta. Agricultural and mineral resources both proved readily available, and only time and the size of the population limited rapid growth and development.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
When I was young and frightened and could not sleep, my grandfather would tell me stories of his youth to soothe my mind and ease my way to slumber. As much as they were stories of his youth—and what a youth my grandfather had—they were also stories of Mother Steppengrad in the days before the coming of the Vještica, before Baba Yaga came and the land wilted away. To see her now, in her anguish, you would not know that once this was a rich and vibrant land. Long ago, before the Great War, Steppengrad was the jewel of Morden. Her rivers teemed with fish, her forests and plains were crowded with beasts and birds, and her fertile fields were the envy of all lesser nations. The people were different then, too. We were stronger, the men handsomer, and the women more lovely. There was wealth and food aplenty, and even the most desperate of our countrymen had at least a goat and a small plot of land; enough to feed his family in even the harshest winter. Now, well, now it is different. Mother Steppengrad is very sick, maybe dying. As long as Baba Yaga still wanders the forests the land suffers and we starve. All is not lost, though. One day this will all be over. One day Baba Yaga and the rest of the Vještica will be driven away. Mother Steppengrad will be made whole, and she will once again be the envy of all the peoples of Morden.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
They came through the Outlands, boiling over the Darkwall Peaks in their multitude. Huge throngs of undead things and living creatures twisted beyond recognition by dark magics. Rank upon rank of hired soldiers from across the great sea bolstered their numbers. In the van were the Accursed–shambling Mongrels, plodding Golems, loping, gibbering Vargr, lithesome Damphyre, along with their fellows. At their head strode the great usurpers, the Witches of the Grand Coven. Cunning Baba Yaga, mighty Sanguinara, the twisted Chimera, and their sisters led their varied armies over the Darkwall Peaks and into the unsuspecting lands of Morden quick as lightning, taking the unprepared mortals completely unawares and easily sweeping aside the initial, hastily assembled resistance. The Witch armies spread out and the heroes of the Alliance gathered their armies to oppose them. The entrenched forces settled in for a savage war of attrition that would grind on for decades and only really end with the Great Betrayal, when the Grand Coven was broken and the Witch armies scattered to the winds.
Friday, July 5, 2013
The northern realm of Valkenholm has long been seen as one of the most pre-eminent regions of Morden. Its vast, thick forests provide many benefits—amongst them rich lumber, furs, and food. Valkenholm sits astride the mighty Scythe River, itself a prime source of fish and minerals. To the southeast, the realm’s forests give way to a deep and largely unexplored series of bogs and swamps known as the Sunken Lands.
Monday, June 24, 2013
After decades of war with the Witch armies, the Alliance began to realize that there remained little hope for victory. The Outlands, which had first fallen to the invaders, were completely razed. The inhabitants had been transformed into tools of the witches—the Accursed. Large portions of the surviving nations of Morden had already fallen to the banes and the Witchmarked. It seemed it would only be a matter of time before all would crumble.
Friday, June 21, 2013
The tale of the Outlands is a tragic one. Once, the Outlands were the most wild, the most vibrant, the most untamed and open lands in all of Morden. Settled over 700 years before the Witches and their armies crossed the Darkwall, the Outlands were originally a home for pioneers, adventurers, and farsighted merchants. The Outlands were verdant, rich in flora and fauna, and they were only limited in their development by the growing wealth and influence of the more southern realms such as Hyphrates and Manreia.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Citizens of Manreia believe that their nation is the cultural, technological, and religious center of Morden. They have the greatest poets, artists, and composers. Aureliano de Acosta's academy and workshop produce endless marvels. The Conclave of Enochian Bishops meets at St. Stephen's Basilica in Manreia's capital city of Palmyria. The citizens also argue that the land's mild year-round climate is a sign of God's favor upon them. Their fields are fertile, their mines are rich, and the sea provides a generous bounty. Manreia's citizens believe that they are the most fortunate and the most accomplished in the world.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
A prisoner's stripes, the Mark of Cain, the Scarlet Letter, the "B" burned into a blasphemer's forehead – every sinner is marked by their sin. Some are carried within, hidden from view but seared on the soul, while others are very visible indeed. In word, deed, and appearance, those who are so marked are altered, twisted in some way that makes it clear to all who see them that they have transgressed and, in theory, have atoned for their sins. In the land of Morden, perhaps the most visible mark is the Witchmark. In today's installment, I'll be talking about Witchmarks, their meaning, and how they affect the Accursed and the world around them.