THE LAND OF ERIDU
Behold Eridu, a vast and beautiful continent in the wild world of Enki. Mighty kingdoms, humble villages, and ancient peoples populate much of the fertile land. The kingdom of Norstowe, rich in farmland and stone, with its massive cathedrals and bustling cities, is the center of the trade in Eridu’s West. The mysterious and distant desert kingdom of Khatir finds its wealth in the southern mountains, rich in many precious metals. Skog is the new realm of the Varg, a once nomadic seafaring people who left the frozen tundras of Audn and settled and built villages and strongholds dotting the lands to the North and East, and are now beginning to explore this continent.
It is a time of peace and prosperity; the old hatreds between the Stowans and Khatiri are set aside in favor of farm, trade, and sport. But when the kingdom of Norstowe suddenly falls silent and closes its gates at Hildeguard, rumor takes wind. Stories of shadow, creatures, and death, muttered in low voices in every tavern. It is feared that the time of peace is coming to an end; that Norstowe seeks the mysterious power under the southern desert sands.
Deep within the wastelands of Khatir, under the city of Aljana, rests the ominous Omenstone, a crystalline monolith inscribed with ancient spells believed to defend Enki from otherworldly evil. Some claim that the Omenstone brings good fortune and wealth, others say it offers visions of the future. Priests profess it is a gift from the gods, and sorcerers insist it would grant them mighty power. Many, however, do not even know it exists. But if the Omenstone is what the tales say, it must be protected at all costs; for if it falls, the doom of this world is ensured.
The Varg are a proud and ancient race, said to be descendants of the giant, Ulfyr the White—the sleeping god-king of the untamed northlands of Audn. Unlike their Ulfryn ancestors—who are towering wolf-men—the Varg are hairless and smaller; roughly the size of a grown human. But by no means are they any less ferocious. Thick skin, imposing stature, pointed ears, tusks, and piercing eyes make for an intimidating foe. It is also believed that the Varg do not die of old age. Some of their elders claim to be many hundred years old.
Varg society is composed of clans—groups of tribal families working together for survival. They are industrious, intelligent, and take great pride in their fine craftsmanship; particularly with steel, woodworking, and shipbuilding. Varg weaponry is legendary. Neighboring clans freely trade with one another, providing ore and lumbers, skins and furs, meats and tools.
Every twelfth moon, their hierarchical chieftains—called Konungr—are appointed by trial of combat. This tradition keeps the Konungr from getting too comfortable in their thrones, ensuring that only the mightiest may lead. The chief leads by maintaining the day-to-day function of his or her respective clan, but even the Konungr answers to the Hryngr—the shamanic circle—to discuss the survival and future of the Varg people.
OUT FROM AUDN
The Hryngr warned the Varg that death was coming; Ulfyr the White, great god of the Varg, the creator of Audn and all that walked it, was dying. For generations, Ulfyr peacefully slept atop the unclimbable mount Isfyall. Few believed the Hryngr’s warnings; even the few remaining Ulfryn themselves thought the death of Ulfyr impossible. Ever fewer were prepared.
The harsh and cold lands of Audn were already unforgiving during the Vetur season. Vast plains of ice and snow obscured any hope of vegetation beneath it, leaving few trees to slow the bitter wind that slashed and scraped at uncovered skin. Impenetrable clouds coated the sky, hiding the sun and moon for weeks at a time. At the rising of the ninth moon, Audn became even more dreadful.
The seas froze over, and animal life—already sparse—dwindled further. Elk, bear, and fish became increasingly difficult to find. Beasts fought over scraps. At first, the Varg worked together and shared what little they had, pooling their resources and offering rations, equal to all. But hunger began driving the Varg mad, and some clans began hoarding, and others fought one another for scraps of their own. The Ulfryn became feral. Clan then turned on clan. In their madness, they raided and pillaged one another, thieving from and even killing their own families to survive.
Amidst the chaos, four small clans—along with only one surviving Hryngr—boarded ships and fled. Most aboard could not help but consider that perhaps Ulfyr the White, Protector of Life and Master of the Wild, had indeed died.
YORIN, THE IMMORTAL
The Frenzy of Audn, as it is now called, brought the slaughter of nearly all the Varg and Ulfryn races. Chaos and death broke the bravest of heroes, but one made a name for himself. Before the battle, Yorin was not well known. A simple, lowly hunter-gatherer, he did what he could to feed his clan, offering food and skins at generous prices, making certain that all in his power were taken care of. Outside of trading, Yorin kept mostly to himself, possessing little interest in the affairs of others. But when the Frenzy began, the humble tradesman fought to protect his tribe with fierce determination and remarkable strength. Yorin took many grievous wounds but fought through with sheer will, cutting down any who would harm his people, saving many lives. Yorin took boats, and led what few he could to safety.
While the other escaping clans settled in the isles of Fraein, Yorin led the Utlegdt clan further south. To the joy of Yorin and his tribe, they discovered a lush valley teeming with wildlife; fields of grass, a winding river parting the valley, with dense forests and mountains on either side. Sparing no idle moment, the survivors of Audn set to work hunting and gathering, and building their new home. With no other successors to lead the Utlegdt, Yorin was unanimously named Konungr.
Not willing to hoard up the treasures they discovered, Yorin and the Utlegdt established trade routes between the Fraein Isles and the valley Skog. While all the Varg bore the weight and sorrows of Audn with them, relief was growing with every sunrise.